by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)
Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. Everyone in the Green family had better strap in. It’s another woolly ride to the Morrison Street ground for the Sounders FC, facing off in the blistering Oregon sun against arch-rivals, Portland Treecutters. The afternoon kickoff had to be changed to 7.30 p.m. because of the insane heat. The sides are in equally crap form, and after last week’s heartbreaking 1:1 result through Orlando City’s stoppage-time equaliser, we have learnt that there seems to be nothing to learn. Both sides are dodging consistency as if it were a prostitute riddled with chlamydia. We generally throw out the form book for the Pacific Northwest derby, and I expect tonight will be no different. Be that as it may, the Sounders are in their time of need and for the supporters that means all hands to action stations. Seek out your fellow supporters and catch the coach to the match. Should that not be possible, round up your people and descend on one of our fine pubs for a viewing party. We must again help will our lads through this business, and in this oneness of mind, I ask you all join me before kickoff in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!
The Good News
With both sides taking less than half the points from their last five matches in the league, we can make an educated prediction that the match will take on one of two dynamics: A wild, woolly, end to end shootout, or a sharply controlled display, each side terrified to lose to the other. We haven’t yet lost to the Treecutters in either the league or the US Open Cup, so that much is clearly in our favour. All-time the Sounders FC have only lost in five out of the 18 league matches played between the clubs since they both joined MLS. The sides have similar records against common opposition (including our previous league match) with the Treecutters taking 14 points from 11 matches, and the Sounders FC taking 13 points from the same 11 matches. Our defensive records are nearly identical, so perhaps we’re in with a shout. Seattle have no injuries nor suspensions for tonight’s derby, whereas Portland are missing Blanco and Miller through suspension, and Ridgewell for sure, and possibly Myers unavailable through injury.
The Bad News
Portland enter this match 8th in the league table whilst we languish behind them in 16th position. The Treecutters have only lost once in the league this season at their Morrison Street ground. The Sounders FC have lost six of their nine away matches this season. Portland average scoring a half goal more per match than we do, though our defensive averages are nearly the same. Dempsey has no goals in the past 7 matches. Morris hasn’t scored a goal in the last 10 matches. Lodeiro hasn’t scored in the last nine matches. Given the talent in our squad, it is alarming to be 16th in the league after playing half the schedule.
Beyond The Touchline
You have to ask yourself, are the Sounders’ supporters experiencing the Five Stages of Grief?
1. Denial – With so many talented players in the squad, there’s no way we fail to have a successful season. We’ve dodged slow starts before only to win the league, win the US Open Cup, and win the MLS Cup.
2. Anger – Why aren’t we winning more matches? Why can’t we pick up some saviour in the transfer window like we did with Lodeiro last season? What are Schmetzer, Lagerwey, and ownership playing at? Why did we waive half our experience in the offseason? WHY DOES IT SEEM THAT EVERYONE IN THE SQUAD HAS FORGOTTEN HOW TO FOOTBALL?
3. Bargaining – If we can only put a successful run together, I swear I’ll never tell another lie. Not even the kind to protect Gran when her new hairdo is well out of order. Sure the Sounders can put another trophy-winning season together. Garth can sign Alex Hunter and we can somehow breathe life into his pixelated form. Right, they can figure that out at the U-Dub Physics Department? We can make a deal with another club, surely someone with top footballing credentials would want to play with us.
4. Depression – It’s hopeless. I can’t see how at this rate we’re going to get from here to the promised land of trophies and honours. In the words of the immortal C-3P0: “We seem to be made to suffer.”
5. Acceptance – The season will proceed in its proper time and fashion. I can only watch and be as loud as humanly possible in support of the team. They control the Vertical. They control the Horizontal. “Sound Collision. Brace for impact…”
Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper – Attinella, 28, was the first choice last week against Minnesota United, and also in a losing effort against the Sounders in the US Open Cup. Attinella has only four appearances in the team. Portland’s most common choice between the sticks is Gleeson, 26, who has played 13 times this year out of a possible 17 matches in the league. Sounders FC 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.
Defence – Powell, 22, is a Jamaican international with 16 caps for the Reggae Boyz and has appeared for Portland 82 times. 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. With Ridgewell on injury list, and Miller suspended, the likely replacements will be Valentin and Olum. Valentin, 25, was developed by the IMG Academy and played his university football at Akron. He has 132 appearances in his career including 65 appearances for MLS sides, 25 of those for Portland. He previously played 55 times over two seasons for Bodø/Glimt of Norway. Valentin has 33 caps for United States youth sides. Olum, 32, is an experienced hand 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 over 50 times for Portland scoring seven goals.
Midfield – Guzman, 27, should play in a holding role as he did last match. 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. Chara, 31, has played nearly 400 times as a professional, with over 180 of those in a Portland shirt. The Colombian national has two caps for his country and also played for Deportivo Cali, his hometown club. 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. With Blanco suspended, his most likely replacement would be Asprilla. The 25-year-old Colombian began his pro career at Nacional but never played a match for them. He went on loan to Alianza Petrolera and played 71 times scoring 22 goals. He signed with Portland in 2015 and has played for them nearly 50 times. In 2016 Asprilla had a 16 match loan at Millionarios, another prominent Colombian club.
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.
Portland from: Attinella, Gleeson, McIntosh, Powell, Myers, Andriuskevicius, Olum, Valentin, Okugo, Clarke, Farfan, Nagbe, Valeri, Asprilla, Zemanski, Guzman, Chara, Adi, Ebobisse, Mattocks, Arboleda.
Sounders FC from: Frei, Miller, Meredith, Evans, Tolo, Marshall, Alfaro, Torres, Jones, Fisher, Svensson, Alonso, Roldan, Fernandez, Lodeiro, Kovar, Shipp, Delem, Wingo, Mathers, Dempsey, Adekoya, Morris, Bruin.
OUT: Arakoyo (Achilles). Barmby (ankle), Ridgewell (Quad).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Myers (hamstring).
Sounders FC –
MATCHDAY DECISION: Evans (calf), Adekoya (ankle)
Portland: Blanco (Sent Off), Miller (Accumulated Bookings).
The Sounders FC/Treecutters football rivalry is now swiftly approaching its 100th match in all competitions. Tonight’s will be number 98.