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T2 Face Double Dose of Sounders 2 in Six Days

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Craig Mitchelldyer

It's going to be a double dose of the Sounders 2 in 6 days. Tonight, T2 host S2 in regular season USL play. On Wednesday, they flip, and S2 will host T2 in the Third Round of the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. So enjoy two match previews in one! And prepare for a lot of Timbers 2 information to come your way.

Portland Timbers 2

T2 (3-3-2, 11 pts) are coming off a draw and a win in their last two matches across two competitions. First, T2 traveled back to Sandy, Utah to face Real Monarchs a third and final time this season. And they duplicated their previous score line there, a 1-1 draw. In this most recent trip, it was T2 who went down a goal first, but were able to get the draw thanks to an 88th minute game tying goal from Rundell Winchester.

After Utah, T2 made the trip to Pontiac, Michigan. There they played USL PDL team Michigan Bucks in what has been aptly described as a prison rec field. The Bucks made a solid effort, and were the team with the better chances in the first half. But T2 got two second half goals from Belmar and Fatawu Safiu and defeated their hosts 2-0 in their first ever US Open Cup match.

Up next are the second and third meetings with Sounders 2. First, T2 gets to play them at home tonight in USL. Since it is regular season league action, both sides should be fully stocked with at least their longer term MLS loans. The match against the Monarchs was the last tune up match for Will Johnson, who has returned to the first team and traveled with them to Toronto.

So he should be preparing to return to first team action as early as tomorrow but definitely by the home match against DC United next week. As such Blair Gavin should return to the starting lineup as the team captain as he did in Michigan. Also we should expect to see Peay, Thoma, and Gleeson back in action as well.

Another player we won't see is Fatawu Safiu. As I was writing this up, T2 announced that he has been called up to the Ghana U-23 Men's National Team. With their first match tomorrow and the second one on June 1st, don't expect to see Fatawu in either S2 match.

T2 MIDFIELDER/FORWARD FATAWU SAFIU NAMED TO GHANA U-23 NATIONAL TEAM ROSTER
Ghana U-23 National Team to face Congo in second round of 2015 CAF U-23 Championship qualifiers

PORTLAND, Ore. – T2 midfielder/forward Fatawu Safiu has been named to the Ghana U-23 National Team roster ahead of a two-leg, second-round series against Congo in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) U-23 Championship qualifiers, it was announced today.

The Ghana U-23 National Team, known as the Black Meteors, will square off against Congo in a pair of 2015 CAF U-23 Championship qualifying matches. The first match will take place at Accra Sports Stadium in Accra, Ghana, on Saturday, May 23, with the second leg heading to Congo on Monday, June 1. The winner of the home-and-away series will move on to face Nigeria in the third round of CAF U-23 Championship qualifying.

A total of eight teams will qualify to play in the final CAF U-23 Championship tournament, including host-nation Senegal. The 2015 CAF U-23 Championship tournament acts as a qualifier for the 2016 Summer Olympics, with the top three teams from the tournament qualifying for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Fatawu has made nine appearances (7 starts) across all competitions for T2 this season. He scored a goal against Real Monarchs SLC in a 1-1 draw on April 8 and provided an assist in a 2-0 defeat of Arizona United SC on April 25. The Ghanaian midfielder/forward tallied his second goal in all competitions on May 19 in the second round of the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in a 2-0 victory over the PDL side Michigan Bucks to help T2 advance to the third round.

Seattle Sounders 2

S2 (5-3-1, 16 pts) are a dichotomous team. Undefeated at home and have yet to post a win away from Tukwila. They are coming into tonight's match on the back of two home wins. First, a 3-1 league win over Oklahoma City Energy and then a 4-2 extra time Second Round cup win over Kitsap Pumas. The Pumas did well to make a game of it coming from 2-0 down to tie the game 2-2 at the very end of regulation and force extra time. But S2 grabbed two more to secure the win and move on to the next round.

The last time these two teams played it was the first meeting between these new sides. The visiting T2 team went up first and kept the 1-0 lead going into the half. But S2 were able to find the equalizer early in the second half before finding a late game winner to hand T2 their first ever loss.

With their road record and the fact that T2 themselves are undefeated at their home field of choice, the hope is the tables are turned and fortune will favor the home team in this second meeting between the teams.

Bonus Preview! US Open Cup Third Round

After these two teams face each other tonight at Merlo Field they will do it again just a few days later on Wednesday the 27th back up in Tukwila. S2 got to play host in the second round and will do so again in the third round. Seemingly getting the same luck of the draw in coin flips that their first team has seen over the years.

In fact, I did a little digging. From 2001-2014, Seattle has played 42 US Open Cup matches. 28 of those have been at home, compared to 14 on the road. That's exactly two-thirds of the time they get to host a match. And those matches have been in Tukwila since 2005. And across all those years, of the 28 matches played at home, they've only lost 3. Two of those losses have come prior to using Tukwila for the matches, the third and most recent one came in 2007. And that was actually at what was then Qwest Field (vs Dallas who needed extra time to defeat a USL-1 team). So they have been overly impressive at home. And from what I can tell near invincible at Starfire. Which that's all great. Who wouldn't want that kind of home field advantage? Just, why, over 14 US Open Cup tournaments do they seem to have a far greater chance to host a match than play on the road?

In 2007 and 2011 Seattle played all cup matches at home. And in 2014 they played 4 matches at home before playing the final on the road. And their road record? 14 matches away across 14 tournaments. That is only an average of one match away per tournament. 8 wins, 6 losses in those 14 matches. So with S2 hosting (and winning) their first match and getting to host their second match as well, it does appear they are getting to follow in the footsteps of the first team.

On the flip side, Portland's history in the U.S. Open Cup has been both less stellar and split dead even. Portland has only played 22 total matches across 14 tournaments. Seattle, unfortunately, usually goes much farther in more tournaments so larger sample size for them. But, how many matches has Portland played at home? Exactly half. 11 matches hosted, 11 matches on the road. And with a better record on the road than at home. 5 wins and 6 losses at home, while they've had 7 wins and 4 losses on the road. But it'll start to drop to less than half of the games being at home starting with this tournament as T2 get their first two matches on the road and now even the Timbers get to travel north to face the Sounders.

So however it seems to work out, the idea will be for T2 to go to Tukwila and put an end to this ridiculous home record in U.S. Open Cup play. That is, of course, you're able to even watch the match given it's 1:00pm kickoff time on a weekday. The 4:30pm kickoff time for the last Open Cup match was understandable since it was at 7:30pm local. But unfortunately, I will, once again, be unable to provide live twitter updates of the match due to the time of kickoff.

So make of it all what you will. T2 should have a good chance to get a favorable result tonight. The challenge will be when they go north for the Third Round. I hope to see lots of you at Merlo tonight!

Match Information - USL

Watch it: Streamed live on Timbers.com/T2 and embedded in our T2 match thread

Kickoff: Friday, May 22nd, 7:00 pm pacific, at Merlo Field in Portland, Oregon

Portland Timbers 2: 3-3-2, 11pts, 7th place in the USL Western Conference

Seattle Sounders 2: 5-3-1, 16pts, 2nd place in the USL Western Conference

Match Information - US Open Cup Third Round

Watch it: Streamed live on SoundersFC.com and embedded in our T2 match thread

Kickoff: Wednesday, May 27th, 1:00 pm pacific, at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Washington

Portland Timbers 2: Defeated Michigan Bucks 2-0 on the road in Second Round Matchup

Seattle Sounders 2: Defeated Kitsap Pumas 4-2 after extra time at home in Second Round Matchup