The Road So Far
The Timbers now sit at 11 games unbeaten through all competitions (nine in MLS).
Last week the Timbers pulled off a draw in one of the hardest places to play in MLS, Atlanta United’s Mercedes Benz stadium. The Timbers lone goal in that 1-1 draw was scored by the head of Larrys Mabiala.
The Sounders are coming off a draw with the Chicago Fire and are now 1-3-1 in their last five matches, and only 2-3-2 in the friendly confines of CenturyLink Field. The last time the Sounders won was back on June 9th.
This Time It Counts
The Timbers have already faced the Sounders once this year, a 1-0 win at Providence Park. Unfortunately. because of an unbalanced schedule (thanks LAFC) that win didn’t go towards the Cascadia Cup standings.
Three points would be a great start to the Cascadia competition. The MLS Timbers haven’t (historically) been very good when it comes to playing at Centurylink Field. Three points would also move the Timbers up a spot from 5th to 4th. The Timbers need to take advantage of Seattle’s lackluster performances, because right now they are only averaging 0.86 points per match.
Ah yes, the Seattle Sounders.
A team that depends on Will Bruin and Clint Dempsey, though things will be changing for the Sounders once the transfer window opens. It’s been announced that they have signed Raul Ruidiaz, who will play in the number nine and wear that same number. But right now, they have to make due with what they’ve got, and that ain’t much.
I’d suspect a 4-2-3-1 with Will Bruin playing up top and Dempsey playing just underneath. As of this writing, it’s unclear if goalkeeper Stefan Frei will start between the sticks as he was last noted as entering the league's concussion protocol. So it could be either Brian Meredith or Calle Brown getting the nod.
They’ve been starting Cristian Roldan at right back which obviously isn’t his natural position, he’s a midfielder by trade. So the Timbers would be smart to attack down the right side and put as much pressure on Roldan as humanly possible. The Sounders as a whole are old, slow, and pretty predictable, though they have a couple guys with some wheels but not enough to make a difference.
They like to attack down the left side with left back Nouhou overlapping and getting involved in the attack; along with Rodriguez, they do pose a threat down that side. Alvas Powell will for sure have his hands full.
I’m not going to even try and guess what formation that Giovanni Savarese will come out with. Look at last weekend. Three at the back? Alright then. Though I do have a feeling he’ll slip back into the 4-3-2-1, and it being a slower Sounders side I’d start Samuel Armenteros over Fanendo Adi, as Armenteros is a bit speedier than Adi. It should be mentioned that Liam Ridgewell is healthy, but I don’t see him starting.
King Of Clubs
After this, the Timbers return home to face San Jose before going back out on the road to face LAFC twice at Banc of California stadium. Once in MLS play, and for then the quarter final of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. But first, the Seattle Sounders stand in the way of another three points in the climb up the table. Right now the Timbers are in fifth, averaging 1.64 points per game; if you went by PPG, they would be in fourth instead of fifth. Hey, a spot closer to the top is a spot closer to getting that number one seed in the playoffs.
The Sounders, on the other hand, aren’t that good and every match is becoming a ‘need to win’ situation or their season could quite well go in the tank.
If they can hang on a bit, that new number nine from Liga MX might be enough to spark a fire. A spark they’re going to need sooner than later. I’m happy we don’t have to face him this weekend. The next time the Sounders and Timbers clash it will be at the end of September at Providence Park.