Two weeks later than last year, the first Portland Timbers-Seattle Sounders match up of the season is still pretty early in the season. With a month already gone and four games each from which study, we have some idea of where each team stands entering the first Cascadia Cup encounter of 2014. Yet there are more specific questions that need answering, so we've turned to SB Nation's Seattle blog, Sounder at Heart, for help. As always, Dave Clark provided the information we requested.
1. How big of a loss is Djimi Traore at this point in the season?
Sigi has two options in replacing Traore. One of them makes the team better in the air, even more pumped for the rivalry and maybe a bit more likely to give up a goal. Zach Scott seems to be fading away from the coach's attention, but was mentioned as an option this week. Much more likely is the man who came in to replace Djimi - Jalil Anibaba. The former Fire player was a stalwart for them. He's a fast defender who plays to the right of the keeper, whether as a right back or a right centerback. His first appearance with Seattle went OK. He does seem to make more sense as an RCB next to Yedlin as he is more able to step out and cover than Marshall.
Djimi broke down late last year so rotation was expected, but I'm guessing Sigi didn't want to be forced into the decision.
2. Clint Dempsey seemed pretty annoyed at his suspension for hitting Mark Bloom in the nuts. Will he be on his best behavior on Saturday?
This is Clint Dempsey. He is an aggressive attacking player with a bit of history of lashing out. He tends to kick out after getting tackled. There's no reason to expect this to change. Considering that Diego Chara took him out last year and separated his shoulder I'd guess that Clint plays even harder. He's rides the edge. He will continue to do it and in a rivalry game like this that edge may just cut somebody.
3. Will Brad Evans play? What about the non-injured national team players?
They pulled back Evans' training regimen and withdrew him from the USA v Mexico game so that he could possibly fully heal for Saturday. Currently I feel like there's a 50/50 chance that he plays. How much Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin play will be determined after the friendly. Both could go 90 in each match, but it shouldn't be expected. Yedlin is more likely to play more total minutes and will almost certainly start at Providence Park. It is foreseeable that Clint is only the first sub on the road.
Bonus #1 You've been writing some terrible poetry this week. What can we do to make it stop?
Stopping in Autumn
Cascadia Cup high above
Greens, blues, shales below
Stefan Frei; Dylan Remick, Chad Marshall, Jalil Anibaba, DeAndre Yedlin; Gonzalo Pineda, Osvaldo Alonso, Andy Rose; Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Lamar Neagle
Djimi Traore is suspended. Brad Evans is questionable. Damion Lowe is questionable.