SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC v. PORTLAND TIMBERS – Pre-Match Analysis US OPEN CUP – 4th ROUND – STARFIRE SPORTS COMPLEX, TUKWILA, WA

by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. Somewhere in the midst of Renton, Allentown, and SeaTac Airport lies the Starfire Sports Complex, the home-away-from-home of the Sounders FC. So our boys in Green retreat to the ‘burbs for a midweek US Open Cup Fourth Round showdown against the auld enemy, the Portland Treecutters. If you can find your way to Tukwila, definitely do so. If not try and gather your mates and descend on a viewing party at your local. In the face of the total unpredictability of cup football, squad attrition from World Cup selections, and the absurd joke that is the MLS salary cap – essentially ensuring that in situations like tonight’s, we can expect a thorough exposure highlighting the lack of squad depth in our domestic football culminating in what will likely be a match between two reserve sides, and scouring the Web to research tonight’s match in the worst publicised national cup tournament in perhaps the entire globe – in the face of all of this we shall carry on supporting our boys in Green with the resolve and fortitude that we are known for throughout the country. Tonight. Eyes bright, voices loud. Before kick-off join me in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-Portland Timbers at Seattle Sounders FC
Oh, Clint. So impulsive. Unavailable for selection tonight, but never forgotten. We love you, Deuce.

The Good News
Aside from Wingo’s pesky ankle problem, the entire Seattle team is healthy. In four US Open Cup ties against the Treecutters, we have only lost once. Treecutters’ manager, Caleb Porter has told the press he plans to field a “reserve team” in tonight’s cup fixture. I suppose this is unsurprising as the Treecutters have a fixture at altitude in Colorado on Saturday night. Who bloody well knows what any of that means? I suppose we’ll find out when the Treecutters run onto the pitch at Starfire. The Sounders are on solid form with three wins out of their last five matches in the league.

The Bad News
Dempsey is out due to suspension. Torres and Jones will be unavailable for selection as they are playing with their national teams in the World Cup. Although Morris is available, he is not expected to start the match. With a league fixture set for this Saturday in New York City, you’d have to wonder how many first team players Seattle manager Brian Schmetzer is prepared to commit to the cause of winning the second oldest sporting trophy in North America. The one loss to Portland was the Sounders’ first and last match in the 2015 US Open Cup and notably featured an irate Clint Dempsey ripping up the referee’s notebook. An act for which he is still suspended. Portland have won their last two league matches and are 2-1-2 in their last five. Goal scoring and defending margins for both sides in the USOC are so close that there is no clear advantage to either club.

Know Thine Enemy
(As Portland manager, Caleb Porter has told the press he is fielding a reserve side, many of the players listed here may not feature in tonight’s match)

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, is 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. Both Ridgewell and Miller were injured in last Saturday’s fixture against Dallas and may not feature tonight.

Midfield – Chara,31, is a veteran of over 80 matches of top-flight Colombian football. He has played over 180 times for the Treecutters since signing with them in 2011. Olum, 32, is 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. Nagbe may not play as he played for the Yanks at Azteca in the World Cup only two days ago. 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.

Familiar Faces
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.

Squads
(Nine hours after press time, Seattle signed nine players to short term agreements. Portland signed 11 players to short term agreements. The selection lists now feature these players as of 15.58 PST)

Seattle from: Frei, Miller, Meredith, Evans, Tolo, Marshall, Alfaro, Fisher, Svensson, Alonso, Roldan, Fernandez, Lodeiro, Kovar, Shipp, Delem, Mathers, Adekoya, Morris, Bruin, Ele, Chenkam, Saari, Narbon, Nana-Sinkam, Renken, Rogers, Olsen, Parra.

Suspended: Dempsey.

National Team absences: Jones, Torres.

Portland from: Gleeson, Attinella, McIntosh, Powell, Andriuskevicius, Miller, Olum, Valentin, Okugo, Ridgewell, Clarke, Farfan, Nagbe, Valeri, Blanco, Asprilla, Zemanski, Chara, Barmby, Adi, Ebobisse, Mattocks, Arboleda, Amick, Batista, Hanson, Ornstil, Bijev, Granitto, Lewis, Lowe, Mohamed, Cicerone, Williams.

Suspended: none.

National Team absences: Guzman.

Injury List
Seattle –
OUT: Wingo (ankle)
MATCHDAY DECISION: none.

Portland –
OUT: Arokoyo, Myers.
MATCHDAY DECISION: Barmby, Mattocks, Attinella, Ridgewell, Miller.

Discipline
Seattle – Dempsey is suspended as he is still serving a suspension for ripping up the referee’s notebook in the 2015 US Open Cup match against Portland.

Fun Fact
Joseph Mondello reported, on the Sounders FC website, that three Sounders FC Academy players have been called up to their respective United States youth national teams. Goalkeeper, Trey Muse, 18, has been called up to the Yanks’ U-20s. Forward, Azriel Gonzalez, 16, has been called into the U-16s. Midfielder, Sota Kitahara, 14, has been called into the U-14s. Well done, lads!

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