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Storylines: Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers (U.S. Open Cup 2019)

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Deja Vu all over again.

MLS: Western Conference Semifinal-Portland Timbers at Seattle Sounders FC Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

The Story So Far

Welcome to the Gold Cup Break, gather round.

The Timbers returned home to much fanfare only to be dumped on their keisters by LAFC, ruining the grand homecoming. The final score of 3-2 should tell you all you need to know, the Timbers were worked hard. While they were able to score two on the the league’s best team, it wasn’t enough to overcome Carlos Vela and company.

The Seattle Sounders were so shorthanded against the Montreal Impact that they dressed only six substitutes, two of those being goalkeepers. And not to be outdone at home, the Impact only dressed five subs. With the loss, Seattle remains in third place in the Western Conference.

The last time these two teams faced each other was in the Western Conference finals, a shoot out that would see the Timbers through to MLS Cup. This match will take place, not in Seattle but in... Tacoma... in a baseball stadium. I guess that’s a step up from Starfire? Anyways, will the Sounders exact revenge or will the Timbers send the Flounders back to Seattle and out of the U.S. Open Cup.

What To Watch For

Seattle Sounders (7-4-5, 26 pts)

The Sounders aren’t on a good run of form, having lost their last three matches. According to Sounder At Heart, anyone that isn’t away on international duty will be available for this match up. So they could field a pretty strong 11, and then maybe go slightly younger to fill out the bench.

And while this isn’t a semi-final play off match, it’s still a match between two Cascadian rivals, who both want to one up the other. There have been some epic matches over time, like the Red Card Wedding: here is an oral history of said match, thanks to folks at Sounder At Heart and our own Chris Rifer.

No matter who they put on the field, Brian Schmetzer’s team will come out in a 4-2-3-1. Look for them to try and spread the field wide and attack down the left side. One thing the Timbers will have to keep an eye on is Seattle’s counter attack, they are very crafty much like the Timbers on the break - limiting these will be key. They average around 11 shots per match and hold a 49.2% possession.

Portland Timbers (4-7-2, 14 pts)

With the Gold Cup on the horizon, the Timbers don’t have another league match until July 22nd. Much like Brian Schmetzer’s Sounders, Giovanni Savarese could field a pretty strong eleven for this match.

As far as players on international duties, the Timbers will be without the services of Andy Polo, Andres Flores, Renzo Zambrano, and Eryk Williamson. So it’s not like the Timbers have been crippled by the overly large international break. That being said, we could still see some of the youngsters on display as we would normally see in the USOC.

Another bright spot is that there is no one in the injured list going into this match. Gio could put a very very strong side out or he could also use a mix of T2 players and starters. Look at Sebastian Blanco for example, he’s not playing in the next league match because of yellow card accumulation. Why have him sit for an extended amount out of time when you can start him in the Open Cup so he gets some minutes between now and July 26th when the Timbers face the Impact.

I would assume that either Steve Clark or Kendall McIntosh will start in goal, we’ll have a Julio Cascante sighting, and it’s possible that Ebobisse gets the start up top. Though I could also see where you need to keep Brian Fernandez going - he’s on a great run of form and why allow him to cool off? Like I said, Savarese could possibly field a very strong starting eleven.

No matter who’s on the field, it comes down to Fishing Village versus Soccer City U.S.A. There is no love lost between the two clubs. The Timbers could really use the win not only to advance in the USOC but to shake off the loss to LAFC and begin the home stand in a positive light.

Log Slices

This fourth-round match marks the eighth meeting between the Timbers and Seattle in U.S. Open Cup play, dating back to their first tournament match as second-division sides in 2005. No two teams have played each other more in the competition in its modern era (1995-present). Wednesday’s match will be the 105th competitive match between Portland and Seattle.

With the announced pairing with Seattle, Portland will square off against an MLS opponent for a fifth straight year to open the competition. In their last four fourth-round matches, the Timbers have produced a 3-1 record dating back to the 2015 campaign. Five players on Portland’s current roster have scored goals for the Timbers in U.S. Open Cup play. Diego Valeri leads the way with three goals, while Dairon Asprilla has recorded two goals and Sebastián Blanco, Jeremy Ebobisse, and Julio Cascante have also scored goals.

This match will not be played at Starfire, but Cheney Stadium in Tacoma. It’s home to the Tacoma Rainiers baseball club and the USL’s Tacoma Defiance, formally known as S2.

Expect a big crowd to attend this match as of this writing there were something like 500 tickets left for the event.