Big day. Big match. Big EVERYTHING. There's really not much I can say about the rivalry today that most of you don't already know. But if this IS your first time heading to a match between these two sides, all I will say is be prepared. There's nothing timid about a Portland Timbers - Seattle Sounders match.
With that said, today's match is important for reasons beyond simply beating Seattle. A win today could revive an ailing Timbers side that is struggling in multiple areas on the field, as well as with confidence. Taking three points from Seattle when they ripped it from us last year would go a long ways to restoring the faith that both the fans and players need to see this season out on a high note.
Oh also there's that whole Cascadia Cup thing... or something.
On to the teams!
Assessing Our Team
The big news heading into today's game is the loss of star center back defender Hanyer Mosquera, a player who has bee a rock in his defending all season long and one that will certainly hurt the Timbers. For those that don't recall, he was suspended for hitting Jack McBean last Sunday late in the game against the LA Galaxy. With both Mosquo and Eric Brunner out this means we'll almost definitely see David Horst paired up with Futty Danso in the center back positions.
Additionally, according to Andy's training report yesterday, we should not expect to see Rodney Wallace take up his usual spot in the left midfield as he's still recovering from injury. Instead, expect Franck Songo'o to return to that spot. After his performance against the LA Galaxy, I'm inclined to think this is a good move regardless. He showed some of that vision we all saw in pre-season.
Up top, the big question mark is still whether or not Danny Mwanga will start, or even sub in tonight, due to a minor but nagging injury he's be hampered with. Instead, according to Will's training report last Friday, we could instead see Mike Fucito get the start against his former team. While I would still prefer to see Mwanga start, I'm excited to see if Fucito can score against his former team whose fans once loved him so much. I would relish such a goal.
Aside from that, the rest of the squad looks to be traditional. Expect Krid Boyd up top with Darlington Nagbe sitting in the midfield as a CAM. Jack Jewsbury and Steven Smith (who has returned from his wedding) should be in their usual back wing positions and Diego Chara will, once again, be our small bruiser in the CDM position.
Here's my predicted starting line up:
Troy Perkins; Jack Jewsbury, David Horst, Futty Danso, Steven Smith; Kalif Alhassan, Diego Chara, Darlington Nagbe, Franck Songo'o; Mike Fucito, Kris Boyd
Assessing the Flounders
We've done an incredible amount of pre-game work on this team so, before I continue, I strongly urge you to read those:
- Preview interview with Sounder at Heart
- How Portland can win today's match
- Cascadia Cup preview: a look at Seattle's form
Andrew Weber; Marc Burch, Patrick Ianni, Jeff Parke, Zach Scott; Servando Carrasco; Alex Caskey, Andy Rose, Roger Levesque; Fredy Montero, Sammy Ochoa
Personally, I would be surprised if we didn't see Osvaldo Alonso, but he's been predicted to be sitting it out in order to rest for the upcoming U.S. Open Cup game.
What more is there to say about today's game? It's going to be epic, that's for sure. I expect no less than 3 goals from today's game. Where they come from, I can't say, but I hope it's a hattrick on our side.
I will say this, though:
Regardless of the current season form. Regardless of the Timbers' inability to score of late. Regardless of tactics, statistics, and everything else. This is a heated rivalry. Whatever we're used to in the regular season is suspended for this game. These games are different. Just like last year when the Timbers broke their scoring drought in July during a 2-3 thriller against Seattle, expect something equally as uproarious. This is the Cascadia Cup... not just MLS.
Today's game kicks off at 2:00 PM at Jeld-Wen Field. If you're unable to attend, you can catch the match on ESPN or ESPN3.com.