Matchday Preview: Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers - August 25, 2013

Timbers. Sounders. Cascadia Cup. Watch it on ESPN2 Sunday at 7pm PT

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC vs PORTLAND TIMBERS
CENTURYLINK FIELD, Seattle, Wash.
August 25, 2013 (WEEK 26, MLS Game #241)
7 p.m. PT (ESPN2/Deportes)

One of the marquee matches of the entire MLS season is ahead Sunday night before an ESPN2 audience as Seattle Sounders FC take on the Portland Timbers in a huge match at CenturyLink Field. The soldout game is expected to attract one of the largest crowds in MLS history. It’s also a massive match in the playoff fortunes for both clubs, separated by just three points. Portland still holds a tie for second in the West following their midweek draw with Real Salt Lake, while Seattle could move into a playoff position with a win, back home off a 3-1 loss at Houston last weekend.

PORTLAND TIMBERS
The Portland Timbers completed their three-game homestand with a second draw, hauled back into a 3-3 tie with Real Salt Lake on Wednesday evening at JELD-WEN Field. The Timbers are in a tie for second place in the Western Conference with 39 points from 24 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • Portland struck first in the 24th minute when Diego Valeri picked out Rodney Wallace at the top of the six on a free kick from the left, and Wallace sent a clinical header past RSL goalkeeper Jeff Attinella.
     
  • But RSL found the equalizer in the 38th minute after a Javier Morales cross found Joao Plata in the box. Plata saw his shot stopped by Portland ‘keeper Donovan Ricketts, but Nat Borchers was on the spot to tap home the rebound from close range.
     
  • Real pulled ahead just before halftime when Morales got tangled up with Portland defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste, leading referee Ricardo Salazar to point to the spot, where Morales easily converted. But the Timbers pulled level in the 56th minute after defender Brandon McDonald was called for a handball in the box, and Diego Valeri calmly converted the spot kick.
     
  • With 11 minutes to play, RSL went a man down when Yordany Alvarez saw a straight red card for a hard tackle on Diego Chara. The Timbers took advantage four minutes from the end when a cross from the left fell right to the feet of Kalif Alhassan off an RSL defender, and he blasted home from 12 yards out.
     
  • Yet Real had one final answer. A low pass from the right flank was cleared by Jean-Baptiste -- but only as far as Cole Grossman, and he stroked home a low shot inside the right post from the edge of the box.
     
  • Timbers head coach Caleb Porter made no changes to the team that defeated FC Dallas 2-1 at JELD-WEN Field.
     
  • PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-2-1-3): Donovan Ricketts - Alvas Powell, Pa Modou Kah, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Michael Harrington - Diego Chara, Ben Zemanski - Diego Valeri (Ryan Miller 88) - Darlington Nagbe (Kalif Alhassan 78), Ryan Johnson (Jose Valencia 63), Rodney Wallace.

TEAM NEWS

  • The Timbers completed the three-game home stretch taking five of a possible nine points, all against Western Conference opposition. They now face road trips to Seattle followed by a return visit to Real Salt Lake.
     
  • “I think we’re all pretty gutted not to get that three points. Obviously, it’s in our hands, 3-2. We did a heck of a job in that second half, battling back,” said Timbers head coach Caleb Porter. “… In the end, we’re disappointed, but we don’t have time to be too disappointed. We have a big game on Sunday. I told the guys there’s some things we need to address, but mostly we need to put it behind us quickly and get to work on Seattle.”
     
  • The Timbers remained undefeated over their last 10 games at JELD-WEN Field (8-0-2), their only loss in the Rose City this season having come on March 9 vs. Montréal.
     
  • “We scored the first goal and started the game really well, which was we talked about doing,” defender Michael Harrington said. “But after we scored that first goal the mentality went down a little bit, so I think the last few games that’s been a little bit of an issue as we’ve had good spells but our mentality is not there for 90 minutes, and that’s hurt us.”
     
  • The Timbers matched their league season-high with three goals, which they had done three times previously. The three goals allowed also matched the season-high, when they conceded three in the season-opening 3-3 draw with New York.
     
  • “When you play not to lose, you usually lose. We’re at our best when we’re proactive, when we’re pushing the game, playing with urgency, playing on the front foot. We played that way tonight to get all three goals, but the other side is when we didn’t play that way, and ultimately those were the periods that cost us,” said Porter.
     
  • Diego Valeri was involved in eight consecutive Portland goals, dating back to July 13, before the late Alhassan unassisted go-ahead goal.
     
  • Valeri has a goal and seven assists over that six-game span, and is now second in assists in Major League Soccer, one behind Philadelphia’s Sebastien Le Toux.
     
  • Kalif Alhassan scored his first goal of the 2013 season, his first in MLS since last March 12, when he scored in the season opener against Philadelphia.
     
  • “There are some things we need to address. The biggest one is we need to continue to play the way we played to get the goals,” Porter said. “Obviously there was a clear shift in our urgency in that first half before we got the goal and then after we scored a goal. There was a shift, I thought, in how we played.”

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
Seattle Sounders FC saw their winning streak come to an end after thrematches, dropping a 3-1 decision to the Houston Dynamo on Saturday evening at BBVA Compass Stadium. Sounders FC are in sixth place in the Western Conference with 34 points from 22 matches.

 

LAST MATCH

  • The Dynamo took the lead in the 17th minute. Will Bruin drew Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning off his line before feeding Giles Barnes, who took a touch inside and blasted the loose ball into the top corner of the unguarded net.
     
  • Four minutes later, Barnes and the Dynamo had a second. This was of the spectacular variety, as Barnes was given acres of space and blasted a sterling 30-yard strike past a leaping Gspurning and into the upper corner.
     
  • Sounders FC pulled one back in the 65th minute when Shalrie Joseph found space on a Marc Burch free kick and headed the attempt downward and into the back of the net.
     
  • But Houston restored the final margin in the 74th minute when Bruin finished from close range, potting the rebound after a Warren Creavalle header rang off the crossbar.
     
  • Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid made four changes to the team that took a 2-1 victory against Toronto FC at BMO Field. Michael Gspurning came in between the posts in place of Marcus Hahnemann, and Shalrie Joseph, Osvaldo Alonso and Clint Dempsey all came into the side for Brad Evans, Obafemi Martins and Eddie Johnson.
     
  • SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (4-4-2): Michael Gspurning - DeAndre Yedlin, Djimi Traore (Zach Scott 82), Patrick Ianni, Leo Gonzalez - Mauro Rosales (Brad Evans 62), Shalrie Joseph, Osvaldo Alonso, Marc Burch (Eriq Zavaleta 85) - Clint Dempsey, Lamar Neagle.

TEAM NEWS

  • Sounders FC lost for the fourth time in the last five away matches, finishing the two-game Eastern swing with a win and a loss. Sounders FC have seven road losses on the season, the club’s most since coming to MLS.
     
  • “We gave up some goals early, our body-language wasn’t good, we handed them opportunities early,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “After that, though, I thought we were as much in the game as they were. It’s easily a game that could have been 3-3 or 4-4 just on the chances we had.
     
  • Sounders FC return to CenturyLink Field riding a nine-game undefeated streak at home, tied for fourth-longest in MLS this season – with Portland. The MLS long this season is San Jose, with a 12-game undefeated run after its 1-0 weekend win vs. Sporting KC.
     
  • “That’s not a concern for me,” Schmid said. “You win on the road, you lose on the road. Sometimes you have more difficult games on the road. It’s just one of those things. Records are made to be broken.”
     
  • Shalrie Joseph scored his first goal since coming to Sounders FC in the offseason, netting in the 3-1 loss at Houston.
     
  • After coming on as a first-half substitute the weekend before in his Sounders FC debut, Clint Dempsey made his first start for the club, partnering Lamar Neagle in attack.
     
  • “You got to play games to get fitness. So far I’ve only played two competitive games since I was off with the national team,” Dempsey said. “It’s good to get my first 90 minutes, and fitness is getting there and still working on that sharpness. That final shot in front of goal was lacking a little bit tonight. I like to think that I could have put at least one of those opportunities away.”
     
  • With a victory, Sounders FC could move into the top five in the Western Conference and a playoff position for the first time since July 4. Sounders FC have been in a playoff spot just two weeks all season.
     
  • “Of course it makes us even hungrier to beat those guys and move up in the standings, as well,” said goalkeeper Michael Gspurning to The Seattle Times. “But Portland is always Portland. It doesn’t matter if we’re first and they’re last or the other way.” Said midfielder Brad Evans: “We have to start getting results here pretty quick or else we’re going to start finding ourselves falling behind.”
     
  • After making four consecutive starts, Obafemi Martins missed the Houston match with a sprained ankle.

REFEREE: Jair Marrufo. AR1 (bench): Frank Anderson; AR2 (opposite): Adam Garner; 4th: Tyler Ploeger
MLS Career: 153 games; FC/gm: 24.0; Y/gm: 3.0; R: 32; pens: 45

DISABLED LIST: SEA: Josh Ford, Steve Zakuani
SUSPENDED: POR: Diego Chara (caution accumulation; through August 25)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: SEA: Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Djimi Traore … POR: Pa Modou Kah, Ben Zemanski
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: SEA: Zach Scott, Eddie Johnson, Leo Gonzalez … POR: Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Will Johnson
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (6 meetings): Sounders FC 2 wins, 10 goals … Timbers 1 win, 7 goals … Ties 3
AT SEATTLE (2 meetings): Sounders FC 1 win, 5 goals … Timbers 0 wins, 2 goals … Ties 1
FUTURE MATCH: 10/13: Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders FC, 6 p.m. PT (ESPN)

  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. It was another wild Cascadia Cup finish in the first, as Rodney Wallace’s goal in second-half stoppage time canceled out an early Eddie Johnson to leave the teams in a 1-1 draw, March 16 at CenturyLink Field.
  • Sounders FC defeated their Pacific Northwest rivals for the first time ever at home in MLS play with a 3-0 victory last Oct. 7 at CenturyLink Field. In the first meeting a year ago, the Timbers defeated Seattle in MLS play for the first time, a 2-1 win at Jeld-Wen Field on June 24.
  • The clubs have a long history against each other, dating back to the North American Soccer League, when the Timbers played their first ever game against Seattle on May 2, 1975. In more recent times, the teams met in back-to-back years in the U.S. Open Cup, with the MLS Sounders defeating the D-II Timbers in both 2009 and 2010.
  • Versions of the club have faced one another in the NASL, Western Soccer League, APSL/A-League/USL First Division and now MLS. Overall, the clubs have met 78 times in official competitions, Seattle winning 41 times, Portland winning 28, and 10 draws.
  • Coaches record: Sigi Schmid vs. POR: P6 W2 L1 D3 … Caleb Porter vs. SEA: P1 W0 L0 D1

LAST MEETING (MLS)
3/16: SEA 1, POR 1 (Johnson 13 – Wallace 92+)

  • Sounders FC took the lead after 13 minutes. Steve Zakuani picked up a stray pass in midfield and immediately streaked down the left side, cut in around the top of the penalty area and found Eddie Johnson at the far post with an inch-perfect cross for a first-time finish.
  • But the Timbers found a dramatic equalizer in second-half stoppage time. Andrew Jean-Baptiste looped a high cross into the heart of the area and substitute Rodney Wallace found himself completely unmarked before sailing a header over Sounders FC goalkeeper Michael Gspurning.
  • SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (4-4-2): Michael Gspurning - DeAndre Yedlin, Djimi Traore, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Marc Burch - Mario Martinez (Obafemi Martins 70), Andy Rose, Osvaldo Alonso, Steve Zakuani (Alex Caskey 81) - Eddie Johnson, Sammy Ochoa (Mauro Rosales 61).
  • PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-1-2-3): Donovan Ricketts - Ben Zemanski, Mikael Silvestre, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Michael Harrington - Jack Jewsbury (Frederic Piquionne 70) - Will Johnson, Diego Chara - Diego Valeri, Ryan Johnson (Jose Adolfo Valencia 90), Darlington Nagbe (Rodney Wallace 80).