One of the largest crowds in MLS history is expected Sunday evening when Seattle Sounders FC and the Portland Timbers renew their Cascadia Cup rivalry before an ESPN audience at CenturyLink Field. Sounders FC have secured their place in the MLS Cup Playoffs, following their scoreless draw in Vancouver last weekend. The Timbers were officially eliminated from playoff contention at midweek despite a 1-1 home draw with D.C. United last week, but can still lay claim to the regional honor for this season with a victory against their arch-rivals.
The Portland Timbers had their winless run extended to five games, playing to a 1-1 draw with D.C. United on Saturday evening at JELD-WEN Field. The Timbers are in eighth place in the Western Conference with 30 points from 31 games.
Highlights: Portland draw DCU 1-1
- United took the lead on the hour mark, when from a corner, Perry Kitchen sent a cross into the box that Portland defender David Horst attempted to clear in the air. Assistant referee Craig Lowry raised his flag to indicate a handball, and Chris Pontius eventually converted from the penalty spot.
- But the Timbers countered with 11 minutes remaining. A through ball was played to Steven Smith on the left flank, and while his cross was initially broken up, the ball fell to Bright Dike on the left of the goal and he drove his shot past United goalkeeper Bill Hamid into the roof of the goal.
- Timbers interim head coach Gavin Wilkinson made one change to the side that saw Real Salt Lake claim a 2-1 win at Rio Tinto Stadium. Bright Dike came back into the side in place of Danny Mwanga.
- PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-3-3): Joe Bendik - Kosuke Kimura (Danny Mwanga 81), Hanyer Mosquera (Mamadou Danso 25), David Horst, Steven Smith - Darlington Nagbe, Jack Jewsbury, Rodney Wallace - Sal Zizzo (Brent Richards 90), Bright Dike, Franck Songo'o.
The Timbers come into the match in Seattle knowing that they must take the full three points to have any chance of remaining in playoff contention.
"Especially where we're at in the table right now, I think to have that sense of pride to play here, to have that urgency to come back from behind is very, very important," said interim head coach Gavin Wilkinson. "But I think you've seen it as of late. It's Salt Lake, we've gone down 2-0, two free kicks, and we've climbed our way back into the game, and performed in the second half very well. So I think the group is maturing. I think it is developing. I do think we've got some bright players, some bright prospects, and it's just another sign that we're not far away."
Returning to the starting lineup for the first time in four games, Bright Dike scored for a second consecutive match and the fourth time in the last eight contests to bring Portland back.
"He's come in to make the most of an opportunity. He's continued to put defenses under pressure. The goal tonight, it was just opportunistic, and I think that's some of the things he does best. He makes the most of small things, and tonight he gets on the end of it, and gets us back in the game," said midfielder Jack Jewsbury.
The Dike goal also came at the end of a barrage over the final half-hour where the Timbers uncorked seven attempts at goal while holding D.C. United without a single one.
"We were very aggressive, going after it at the end of the game. I think we put them under a lot of pressure, we forced their ëkeeper into some very, very good saves, and I can't remember a save that Joe Bendik had to pull off, to be honest. I'm happy with the performance," said Wilkinson.
With Hanyer Mosquera forced from the field after just 25 minutes, after suffering a hamstring strain, Mamadou Danso was able to come on for his first appearance since July 21.
With a win or a draw, the Timbers can lay claim to the Cascadia Cup, the fan-based competitions organized between supporters of the three Pacific Northwest clubs (also Vancouver).
"It's the biggest game of the year," midfielder Darlington Nagbe said. Said Jewsbury: "At the end of the day, we got three games left. We want to finish strong. We got a big one next weekend in Seattle. We all know what's at stake there, and we want to finish things on a high note."
- Said assistant coach Sean McAuley: "The mood in the camp is good. We understand that this is a huge, huge game for us."
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
Seattle Sounders FC went a third game without a victory, reaching a scoreless draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday evening at BC Place. Sounders FC are in fourth place in the Western Conference with 49 points from 30 games.
Highlights: Vancouver and Seattle end 0-0
- Both sides came close to dramatic late winners. Vancouver substitute Camilo nearly hit the back of the net on a diagonal strike in stoppage time, while only a goal-line clearance from Whitecaps defender Lee Young-Pyo kept Seattle's Jeff Parke off the board with just more than 10 minutes left to play.
- Both goalkeepers -- Seattle's Michael Gspurning and Vancouver's Brad Knighton -- were each credited with three saves on the evening.
- Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid made three changes to the team that fell to a 2-1 defeat to the San Jose Earthquakes at CenturyLink Field. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado came in at center back for Patrick Ianni, Mauro Rosales started in place of Steve Zakuani, and Eddie Johnson returned from suspension for Sammy Ochoa.
- SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (4-4-2): Michael Gspurning - Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez - Mauro Rosales (Steve Zakuani 70), Christian Tiffert, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans (Andy Rose 74) - Fredy Montero, Eddie Johnson
Sounders FC became the fourth team from the Western Conference to clinch a spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs with the single point from the draw, joining San Jose, Real Salt Lake and the LA Galaxy.
"Obviously we've done a lot of work all season. So it's great to finally have that officially secured, but our goal is still to get second place so we're disappointed in not getting three points today," Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said.
Sounders FC became the first expansion team since the Chicago Fire (who did it from 1998-2003) to reach the MLS Cup Playoffs in its first four years of existence.
"It's a tribute to the organization all the way down," Schmid said. "We have a lot of stability and, as a result of that, there's stability and belief that we've been able to instill in our club. We've still got big goals this year and the No. 1 goal was to make it back to the playoffs and we can talk about the other goals from there."
Sounders FC recorded their first shutout in seven matches, since Aug. 18. But they failed to score a goal for the first time since a scoreless draw with Real Salt Lake on July 4.
"I'm encouraged by the shutout. I think the quality of our crosses sometimes weren't as good as they needed to be. We needed to get in a little deeper with our crosses, they would have been more effective," said Schmid.
Said defender Jeff Parke: "As a group, defensively, it was a good game. We gave up a couple of chances, but at the end of the day we got the zero and it's important that we run with this and hopefully use this as confidence going into the next game and going on a little bit of run."
After a three-match absence, Mauro Rosales was able to return to the Sounders FC side, playing 70 minutes in a wide midfield role.
"Bringing guys back in like Mauro, who missed a few weeks, it takes them a little bit of time to get rhythm but his effort was great and what he gave us was fantastic," Schmid said. "I thought in the first 45 minutes I thought we were very good, I thought we played very well for the opening 45."
Said Rosales: "I think we had more possession of the game during the 90 minutes and it's a pity that we couldn't score and couldn't take the three points. I'm disappointed for that, but we have to keep working."
Eddie Johnson returned from a one-match suspension into his place in attack, partnering Fredy Montero.
The Portland match kicks off a stretch of three consecutive games at CenturyLink Field for Sounders FC. Their last away games will be the season finale trip to face the LA Galaxy. Sounders FC have the league's third-best road record at 4-3-9.
- "It would be nice to make those ties become wins," Schmid said. "I don't care if those ties become wins in the playoffs. I'm OK with that. In the playoffs, the thing is you have to get something when you go on the road and you have to win at home. If you do that, you advance."
REFEREE: Jair Marrufo. AR1 (bench): Eric Boria; AR2 (opposite): George Gansner; 4th: Fotis Bazakos
MLS Career: 141 games; FC/gm: 24.1; Y/gm: 3.1; R: 32; pens: 44
- SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC, OUT: FW Babayele Sodade (R knee ACL tear); DF Andrew Duran (L knee ACL surgery); PROBABLE: DF Patrick Ianni (R adductor strain); MF Michael Seamon (back pain)
- PORTLAND TIMBERS, OUT: FW Kris Boyd (R adductor strain); DF Ian Hogg (R ankle sprain); DF Chris Taylor (R hip surgery); DOUBTFUL: MF Kalif Alhassan (L patellar tendinitis); QUESTIONABLE: DF Hanyer Mosquera (R hamstring strain); PROBABLE: MF Diego Chara (L adductor strain); GK Donovan Ricketts (L shoulder separation)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
- SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: SEA: Osvaldo Alonso, Fredy Montero -- POR: Jack Jewsbury, Franck Songo'o
- SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: SEA: Andy Rose, Zach Scott, Marc Burch, Servando Carrasco, Leo Gonzalez, Jeff Parke -- POR: Kris Boyd, Hanyer Mosquera, Lovel Palmer, Kosuke Kimura, Diego Chara, Steven Smith, Rodney Wallace
- ALL-TIME (4 meetings): Sounders FC 1 win, 6 goals -- Timbers 1 win, 6 goals -- Ties 2
- AT SEATTLE (2 meetings): Sounders FC 0 wins, 1 goal -- Timbers 0 wins, 1 goal -- Ties 1
- 6/24: POR 2, SEA 1 (Boyd 16; Horst 25 , Johnson 58)
- 9/15: POR 1, SEA 1 (Wallace 78 , Montero 57)
- The Cascadia Cup rivals will meet for a third time this season. First-half goals from Kris Boyd and David Horst sent the Timbers on their way to a 2-1 home win on June 24, then Rodney Wallace's late goal canceled out a tally from Seattle's Mauro Rosales to leave the teams in a 1-1 deadlock Sept. 15.
- 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 40 times, Portland winning 28, and 10 draws.
- Coaches record: Sigi Schmid vs. POR: P4 W1 L1 D2 -- Gavin Wilkinson vs. SEA: P1 W0 L0 D1
- Mere seconds after Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts was forced off with an injury in the 57th minute, Sounders FC took the lead. From a restart by goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, Fredy Montero brought it down in the area and fired a right-footed missile from the right corner of the box on the turn that beat subsitute 'keeper Joe Bendik to the top corner.
- But the home side pulled even in the 78th minute. From a corner kick, Rodney Wallace skied to meet a Jack Jewsbury cross that pinballed in front of the goal before a Seattle defender's attempt to clear it out of danger pushed the ball just over the line inside the post.
- PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-2-3-1): Donovan Ricketts (Joseph Bendik 57) - Kosuke Kimura, Hanyer Mosquera, David Horst, Rodney Wallace - Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara - Sal Zizzo (Kalif Alhassan 83), Darlington Nagbe, Franck Songo'o (Danny Mwanga 72) - Bright Dike.
- SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (4-1-3-2): Michael Gspurning - Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez - Osvaldo Alonso - Brad Evans (Marc Burch 78), Andy Rose, Steve Zakuani (Mario Martinez 70) - Eddie Johnson, Fredy Montero.