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Storylines: Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers

Cascadia derby incoming..

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The Story So Far

That’s two matches in a row where the Timbers have dropped much needed poins at home. And both Colorado and Orlando were ripe for the taking. Thanks to Jeremy Ebobisse’s header in the 84th minute with helpers from Jorge Moreira and Brian Fernandez. If wasn’t for that header, it could have turned out quite different as the Timbers ran out of ideas on attacking a bunkering Orlando City.

I’ll never understand the logic behind a mid-season friendly, even if you’re doing it for the money grab to me it seems to be a waste of time, but I digress...

The Sounders are coming off a 3-1 friendly loss to Borussia Dortmund. Their last MLS match was a 2-1 win over the reigning MLS champs, Atlanta United. Can the Timbers continue their unbeaten run and pick up much needed points on the road, or will the Sounders play spoiler?

What To Watch For

Seattle Sounders (10-5-5, 35 pts)

The Sounders are coming off a midweek friendly, and used mostly rotation players, though a few starters were sprinkled in as well. I wouldn’t expect anything less than a first choice 11 from Brian Schmetzer, especially in a Cascadia derby with Cascadia Cup implications. Seattle currently holds on to the cub and is tied with the Vancouver Whitecaps while the Timbers have yet to pick up any points.

The last time these two teams met in MLS competition was August of last year, where the Sounders came into Providence Park and stole a 1-0 victory out from under the noses of the Portland Timbers. Let's face it these two clubs don’t like each other much, it’s one of the things that makes these matches exciting.

The Sounders are currently second in the Western Conference, 11 points(!) behind first place LAFC. To try and get that top spot is going to be hard for them, because well, LAFC keeps winning, they’re favored to win MLS Cup and the Supporters Shield. But you can only play the game in front of you and that’s the Portland Timbers.

It should come to no one's surprise that Raul Ruidiaz is on of the best players on the pitch for the Sounders. He currently leads the team with 7 goals, which works out to about 0.78 goals per 90, not quite like the pace Brian Fernandez is on (0.91) but still pretty good. Ruidiaz is sneaky fast and at times defenses are known to loose him on the pitch which plays to his advantage. If the Timbers center-backs aren’t paying attention it could be a long day for them.

Always be on the lookout for Nicolas Lodeiro, he’s the one pulling the strings in that Sounders midfield. Look out for his crosses, he had 10 against Atlanta United, which is the fourth time this season he’s had 10 or more in a match. This team though is much more than just Lodeiro and Ruidiaz. There’s also Kelvin Leerdam, Christian Roldan and Stefan Frei just to name a few.

Look for them to try and stretch the pitch and attack down the wings with their focus on the left-wing. They’ll hunt in packs without the ball and are good at getting it back. Schmetzer likes to run a 4-2-3-1 much like the Timbers. They’re a possession team, with possession just under 50% per match. It’ll be a much different look than what Orlando City gave the Timbers, mainly they won’t bunker. Expect them to drive forward, especially on the counter attack. They’re fast and smart, the Timbers could blink and be down a goal.

Look this Seattle team is a tough nut to crack, there’s a reason they’re second in the Western Conference. This is a team you do not sleep on and mental errors will be punished, and it won’t be pretty.

Portland Timbers (7-8-4, 25 pts)

Lets face it if it wasn’t for last match heroics from Brian Fernandez and Jeremy Ebobisse, Thursday match might have been totally different. It looks as though the Timbers had run out of ideas to attack the bunkering Lions. The Sounders aren’t going to bunker and are going to come after the Timbers from the first whistle.

I’m not sure exactly about what kind of rotation we’ll see headed into Seattle. Julio Cascante will return from his suspension and as we saw for a brief few minutes Thursday night it looks as though Bill Tuiloma is ready to go. It’ll be interesting to see just how Gio sets up his back line on Sunday night.

It was good to see Andy Polo back on the pitch even if he didn’t have the best of nights against Orlando City. If it was me, Polo would get a rest and start Ebobisse in his place, I think that Ebobisse adds a different element to the attack than Polo. I’m hoping that Polo finds his form, but in this instance I’d go with Ebo.

I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer here, but if the Timbers play like they played on Thursday night, Sunday is going to be a long one. You just can’t have mental errors like the Timbers did on Thursday night, you will be punished - just ask Zarek Valentin. I mean seriously bro, what were you thinking in that moment?

As far as injuries go, the Timbers are the walking wounded. For sure Marco Fa:fan is out with his knee injury and who knows when he’ll be back. Listed as questionable are: Jeff Attinella, Jorge Villafana, though I heard he’s getting some minutes with T2, so that’s a positive - maybe it’s possible we see him Sunday night. Apparently Larrys Mabiala is listed as questionable, so he very well could get the night off and we’ll see a Tuiloma-Cascante pair up in the center of the defense. Also, Modou Jadama is also listed as questionable for Sunday’s match up with the Sounders.

Log Slices

Seattle have won 12 of their last 14 home matches (Major League Soccer).

The teams met three times in the regular season a year ago, and the Timbers won twice, once at each ground. Sebastian Blanco scored the game’s lone goal in a Timbers win in Portland on May 13, then defender Larrys Mabiala netted twice as the Timbers took a 3-2 win at CenturyLink Field on June 30. An own goal gave Sounders FC the 1-0 win on Aug. 26 at Providence Park.

The Timbers win at CenturyLink Field on June 30 was their first win ever in Seattle in an MLS regular season game (Sounders FC were 7-0-3 leading up to that match), though the Timbers won at home in the MLS Cup Playoffs meeting between the clubs.

The Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers have met 104 times in all competitions, the most between two U.S.-based clubs, the second-most in U.S./Canadian soccer history. Since their first meeting in 1975 in the old North American Soccer League, Seattle has won 52 times and Portland has won 38, with 14 draws. In MLS league play, Sounders FC have won 10 matches, the Timbers have won seven, and six have been draws.


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