The Portland Timbers (5-8-6, 10th in Western Conference) are in their best form of the season, taking eight points from their last four matches, as they head up I-5 for a Saturday matinee against the Seattle Sounders (8-2-7, 7th in Western Conference).
A Look at the Opposition
The Sounders will be celebrating their win of the CONCACAF Champions League by unveiling a banner before the match, just 67 days after actually winning it on May 4. Seems like a bit of a coincidence to wait over two months to cement the biggest achievement in your club’s history against the club you claim to not care or think about, but to each their own.
The match represents Seattle’s sixth home game in their last seven matches, because the scheduling in MLS is fair and balanced, with the Sounders taking 13 out of a possible 18 points and scoring 13 goals in the process. They’re in really good form. But in recent years the Timbers have had the upper hand at [George Costanza voice] “Lumen” field, where they are unbeaten since 2017.
Having said that, the Sounders are still an extremely dangerous team. Jordan Morris and Raul Ruidiaz (who is, of course, returning from injury just in time for the game) have both scored five goals so far this season, while Nicolas Lodeiro and Cristian Roldan have both provided five assists from midfield. Roldan is questionable for the Sounders having been placed in health and safety protocols, and Joao Paulo is out after sustaining an ACL tear.
Timbers’ Team News
The Timbers will be welcoming the returns of Diego Chara and Cristhian Paredes to the starting XI after recovering from foot and hamstring injuries, respectively. Chara missed the 2-2 draw in Nashville, and Paredes hasn’t played since being substituted in the 19th minute of the 3-0 win against Colorado on June 25.
Other than that, Eryk Williamson is the only doubt for the Timbers:
Williamson has been immense this season since returning from an ACL tear that he suffered in Seattle on August 29, 2021, tallying five assists in 12 matches and running the show against Houston and Nashville from midfield. It would be a massive blow if he wasn’t available for the Timbers.
All signs point to a difficult outing for the Timbers, who are up against a Sounders team in better form and at home. But I can’t help but feel like the Timbers can embrace the role of ‘party crashers’ and get another result up north.
So I’m going with a 2-1 victory for the Timbers, with Niezgoda and Diego Chara scoring the goals. Nothing would make me happier than the Timbers building a bonfire out of the Sounders’ tacky little celebration.
Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m. PST today, July 9, 2022.