Last week, the Portland Timbers had a home playoff berth within reach in the tightly packed Western Conference but, faced with their 2019 MLS Cup Final opponents, they stumbled and lost 2-0 to Atlanta United. Now, after a week’s worth of friendly results, the Timbers are back at it and poised to take a leap up the standings in the West if they can just take down the hated Seattle Sounders.
What’s more, today’s match will decide the 2019 Cascadia Cup. Although a win or a tie leaves the Timbers in possession of the the Cup, a win for the Sounders would let the mid-Cascadian side take home the hardware.
All of this, the Timbers’ most important match-up in every season, comes against a backdrop of concern and anxiety as the supporters groups from both Portland and Seattle — the 107 Independent Supporters Trust from Portland and Emerald City Supporters and Gorilla FC from Seattle feud with Major League Soccer and their respective front offices over the fan code of conduct, the league’s interpretation of its ban on “political” messages, and the Iron Front symbol. How that conflict will play out in the stands remains to be seen.
On the field, however, both sides will be looking to make an impression. The Timbers, without Larrys Mabiala due to injuries and Jorge Moreira due to yellow card accumulation, will be hoping to return to the sort of defensive form that propelled them out of the bottom of the West and back into relevancy. In recent matches, the Timbers have struggled to contain their opponents and have given up six goals in their last four games after conceding just four in the six games before that. The Sounders have been in an even more dire defensive situation since losing Chad Marshall to injury and retirement, going from one of the consistently best defenses in MLS to giving up eleven goals in their last four games.
All that could lead to a defensive stalemate between the two sides or, if the match opens up, it could devolve into a goal-fest with both sides looking to put one over on their rivals. Either way, the winner will be poised to make an impact on the Western Conference standings.
Storylines: “Can the Timbers right the ship and beat the dreaded Sounders and leap into fifth place in the West and take the Cascadia Cup? Or will Seattle best their rivals in hostile territory and retain the coveted Cascadia Cup and their position in the table?”
And make sure to stop by the Rose City Forecast to make your predictions about today’s match.
Watch it on: ESPN
Where: Providence Park in Portland, OR
When: Friday, August 23rd at 7:00 p.m. PT
Portland Timbers: 11-10-4, 7th place in the Western Conference, lost 2-0 vs. Atlanta United
Seattle Sounders: 11-8-7, 5th place in the Western Conference, drew 2-2 at LA Galaxy