PORTLAND TIMBERS v. SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC Pre-Match Analysis

by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. The third and last installment of this season’s Pacific Northwest Derby takes place this afternoon at Morrison Street, Portland, Oregon. The Green family have heavy hearts this week as we worry about the fitness of top striker, Clint Dempsey. Dempsey was recently diagnosed with irregular heartbeat, and will miss the derby and two World Cup qualifiers for the United States. Football presses on, however, and so will we the supporters. There is more at stake then bragging rights in tonight’s derby. Should Portland win, they will make inroads to solidifying their hold on the last Western Conference MLS Cup berth. A Sounders win would see Seattle move into the last Cup berth and also leapfrog three teams in the league table. Can Lodeiro be the architect of a Sounders victory with no Dempsey to knock in the goals? Will Morris finally score one against the auld enemy? Fasten that seatbelt and prepare yourself for a woolly one. Help galvanise support in your area at a local viewing party if you’re not one of the many faithful making the trip south to Portland. Join me in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!

The Good News
The Sounders are unbeaten in their last five matches. Portland has dropped four out of their last five matches. It is possible, but hardly certain, that Torres might find himself back in the team. We certainly need the help at centre-half, and hopefully Ramon will pass his fitness test for this vital match. Seattle are only one point in the standings away from tying Portland for the sixth and last Western Conference MLS Cup berth. The Sounders will surpass Portland and San Jose in the Western Conference standings should they win tonight’s match. Although currently 14th in the league table, a win in the derby tonight would leapfrog the Sounders FC over San Jose, DC United, and the Treecutters to 11th position.

The Bad News
Dempsey is out this match with irregular heartbeat. He’ll miss this match for the Sounders and two World Cup qualifiers for the Yanks. So there are lots of questions regarding Dempsey’s condition with very few answers forthcoming. In addition to just worrying about Dempsey’s personal health, which is obviously more important than a football match, the fact must be faced that his eight goals against the Treecutters are the most of any of his teammates. To be precise, Dempsey is the only active member in the squad to have scored more than one goal against Portland. This begs the question, “Can the Sounders beat the Treecutters without Dempsey?” All-time results when we travel to Morrison Street paint a dismal picture, with Seattle only having won twice in their seven trips to Portland. Our overall away record this season is only two wins in 12 matches. So the combination of our poor away form, missing perhaps our best player in Dempsey, and facing a Portland side on a rocky patch of form, all seem to suggest that getting a result on Sunday will be difficult work indeed. The Treecutters have only lost three times in 13 matches at Morrison Street this season. Fanendo Adi is a tank of a striker for Portland. He did not start for the Timbers in the last meeting in Seattle. Adi came on as a substitute though and scored yet another goal. Adi has now scored six goals against the Sounders all-time.

The Rest
This is the third and deciding match of this year’s Pacific Northwest Derby. We lost at Portland 3:1 and beat the Treecutters by the same scoreline a week ago in Seattle.

Familiar Faces
Portland goalkeeper, Jake Gleeson was offered a trial with the Sounders in 2010 but the New Zealand man declined in favor of a guaranteed contract offered by the former USL incarnation of the Portland Timbers as they were preparing to make their MLS debut. Portland defender, Taylor Peay played seven times for the Sounders U-23s from 2011-  2012. Peay also played at UW for the Huskies for his entire collegiate career. Portland midfielder, Andy Thoma spent his entire NCAA career at UW Huskies making over 80 appearances in the team. Thoma also played 25 times for Washington Crossfire in the PDL.

Selections for Last Match
Portland: Gleeson, Powell, Steven Taylor, Ridgewell, Andriuskevicius, Chara, Jewsbury, Melano, Valeri, Nagbe.

Bench: Konopka (gk), Jermaine Taylor, Peay, Grabavoy, Adi, Barmby, Okugo.

Seattle: Frei, Mears, Evans, Scott, Remick, Alonso, Friberg, Roldan, Lodeiro, Fernández, Valdez.

Bench: Miller (gk), Ivanschitz, Torres, Joevin Jones, Gómez, Morris, Anderson.

Injury List
Portland –
OUT: Borchers (ruptured Achilles).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Valentin (bone bruise), Zemanski (groin), Mattocks (hamstring).

Seattle –
OUT: Kovar (fractured clavicle), Dempsey (irregular heartbeat).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Torres (ACL).

Discipline
No players suspended.
Portland –
Chara out next booking.

Fun Fact
Former Sounders FC standout defender, DeAndre Yedlin was recently sold by Tottenham to Newcastle on a £5 millon transfer fee. Yedlin’s blazing pace and diligent defending are likely to brighten the faces of the Magpie’s supporters on Tyneside.

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