by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)
Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. It’s that time of season again. The Treecutters from Portland descend on our fair city for a high noon clash on Occidental Avenue. They are the Joker to our Batman or the Batman to our Joker – you know what I’m getting at here. I’m just saying we don’t celebrate our goals by slicing off pieces of a murdered tree. But I digress. It’s come time for the 18th league match between us and our bitter rivals from the Pacific Northwest. All hands to action stations. Gather up your Green Family, whether it be at Occidental Avenue, or at your local for a viewing party. We must have every bit of spirit and sound from all of us. Our numbers are legion and will converge where sky meets sea at Royal Brougham Park. Before the match, join me in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!
The Good News
Last week, the Treecutters got the poutine kicked out of them in Montreal, 4:1. Portland were top of the league for the first nine weeks of the season, but now they’ve plummeted to fifth place in the table like a dying quail with no wins in their last four matches. After enduring our own crap vein of form, we rallied to defeat Salt Lake, ending our three match losing streak. We’ve only lost once at home this season. Portland have only two wins in six matches on the road. We’ve never lost to Portland at Royal Brougham Park in the eight meetings during our tenure in MLS. The park will likely be packed to the bursting with mostly Sounders supporters, hopefully singing and chanting with many voices made one. Portland will be missing Chara due to suspension for being sent off last week. So one less ringer to deal with. Dempsey has hit 8 goals against Portland in the league all-time, this can only be a good thing for us and ours.
The Bad News
Against our eight common opponents this year we have earned only seven points, whilst the Treecutters earned 11. Portland score about half a goal more per match than we do. Our defensive records are nearly identical. Adi, their Nigerian ringer, has scored a Wondolowski-like seven goals against the Sounders and has hit six goals this season so far. Valeri, one of their many Argentinian ringers, has hit six for Portland this season, and three against the Sounders all-time. Our top goal scorer is Dempsey with four. No other Sounder has more than three goals. Even without Chara in the team, Valeri, Adi, Nagbe, Ridgewell, and Powell have plenty of quality. The talent level in our side should be enough to cope with this, but the form book tends to go out the window when our two clubs meet. Dempsey and, hopefully, Alonso, will be able to hold their temper and not be goaded into a rash foul. The two sides in 17 matches of league play have accumulated 65 bookings with four sent off. It’s likely to get dicey, quickly. We struggled to defeat a reeling Salt Lake side last weekend, let’s hope we have better in the tank for this match.
Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper – Portland’s favourite choice between the sticks is Gleeson. We offered him a chance as a trialist, but Portland offered him a guaranteed contract. Go figure. The 26-year-old New Zealand international has nearly 100 professional appearances under his belt, and he always seems to play up against us. McIntosh, 23, was on the bench last week as Gleeson’s understudy.
Defence – Powell, 22, is a Jamaican international with 16 caps for the Reggae Boyz and has appeared for Portland 82 times. Ridgwell, 32, is the old man of the back four. Produced by West Ham and Aston Villa, the Englishman has played over 300 matches of Premier League football. The Bexleyheath native is also a threat to score. Andriuskevicius, 26, not only leads the league in last name syllables but also shows 26 caps for Lithuania and over 100 matches of European football. Miller, 32, has nearly 300 appearances in a career that has seen him play in Scandinavia, Costa Rica, and the United States. Miller has 57 caps for Costa Rica.
Midfield – Guzman, 27, should play in a holding role as he did last week. He is a new signing for Portland having played the rest of his career for Saprissa. Guzman has played over 200 times as a professional. The big question is who will fill-in for Chara at the other holding midfield position. Maybe Olum, 32, will deputise in that role. He’s experienced and plays as either a midfielder or defender. Olum is Kenyan-born (4 caps for Kenya) and has played nearly 140 matches of MLS football. He has played 52 times for Portland scoring seven goals. Nagbe, 26, is by all rights an established star. The Liberian-born naturalised American has 14 caps for the Yanks and has played nearly 200 times for Portland, scoring 26 goals. Valeri, 31, is in the twilight of his career. He played nearly 160 times for Lanus in his native Argentina. He has played over 100 times for Portland scoring 38 goals. Good enough for a Designated Player contract, not to mention being a persistent thorn in our collective bottoms. Blanco, 29, is – surprise, surprise, another Argentinian produced by Lanus. His career has seen him play in Argentina, Ukraine, England, and the United States. He signed a DP contract with Portland this year on the strength of his 263 appearances, 39 goals, and two Argentina caps.
Striker – Adi, 26, is the danger man up front. He is a lethal finisher. He has played nearly 200 times as a professional in a career that has seen him play matches in Slovakia, Ukraine, and Denmark. He has 83 career goals and has scored seven against the Sounders alone.
Portland goalkeeper, Jake Gleeson was offered a trial with the Sounders in 2010 but the New Zealand man (eight caps) declined in favour of a guaranteed contract offered by the former USL incarnation of the Portland Timbers as they were preparing to make their MLS debut.
Selections for Last Match
Sounders FC: Frei, Evans, Svensson, Marshall, Jones, Roldan, Alonso, Shipp, Lodeiro, Dempsey, Morris.
Bench: Miller (gk), Delem, Fisher, Tolo, Fernandez, Bruin, Adekoya.
The Treecutters: Gleeson, Powell, Miller, Ridgewell, Andriuskevicius, Chara, Guzman, Nagbe, Valeri, Blanco.
Bench: McIntosh (gk), Valentin, Olum, Mattocks, Barmby, Okugo, Asprilla.
Sounders FC –
OUT: Wingo (ankle), Bruin (dislocated elbow).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Kovar (groin), Torres (hamstring), Alonso (quadriceps).
OUT: Arokoyo (achilles), Myers (hamstring), Attinella (hamstring).
MATCHDAY DECISION: none.
Portland: Chara out this match (sent off).
And now, yet another reason to be proud of your Sounders FC. Of the 12 highest single-match attendances, seven of those matches were Sounders FC matches at Royal Brougham Park. Four of those highest ever attendances were with Portland as the visiting side. The average attendance of those seven matches was 64,809. The most attended league match in MLS history was LA v. NY/NJ MetroStars, 69,255. I think we can do better. Don’t you?