by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)
Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. The hated Treecutters have made their way north to the Evergreen from their dingy lumber camp on Morrison Street in Portland to clash with their bitter rivals. Us. When not busy hefting sawed discs of murdered trees lopped off by bloody Timber Joey, Portscum – as we affectionately know them, have been amassing actual football results. Which shouldn’t actually surprise anyone, as it would be a pretty crap rivalry if the Treecutters were a completely crap side. The Sounders seem well prepared for this chapter against our auld rivals from the 1970s as we find ourselves in the best form we’ve ever seen since the beginning of the MLS-era. Undoubtedly for the sole purpose of being difficult, the Treecutters have only lost one in their last six. Sauce for the goose. Rather reminds me of when we played Kansas City when both of us were on a run, and they’d lost only one in their last 10. This is that kind of match, with the difference being that our momentum has been more sustained and consistent than that of our friends from Oregon. All of that having been said, the Treecutter’s Wikipedia page for this season was last updated on 27 May, thus generating an extra two hours of research for me. Therefore I am extra displeased with everything Portland tonight. Please be sure to take it out on their supporters for me from the terraces of Royal Brougham Park. Make up a chant or summat. Something like: “YOU LOT CAN’T COUNT” clap clap clap-clap-clap. I digress. Every voice in our number that can be mustered must be heard at the park tonight. Everyone that can’t make it to the match, do your best to gather your Green family and head for a viewing party at your local. Join me in the pre-match toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!
The Good News
The Sounders are riding their best form of the season, boasting a 10-match unbeaten streak – a club record. In the entirety of the MLS history between the two clubs, the Sounders have never lost to the Treecutters at Royal Brougham Park where we’ve won seven times and drawn twice in nine matches. Throw in Portland’s crap away form with only three wins in 13 matches, and our home dominance with only one loss in 12 matches, and prospects look very bright indeed for this derby match.
Newboy Victor Rodriguez looked extremely able in his midweek debut in British Colombia. Rodriguez drew a penalty, looked composed both on and off the ball, and was able to deliver consistent passes of very good quality to his teammates.
The Sounders are generally quite healthy seeing only veteran defender, Brad Evans, out with a nagging back issue. Although Neagle and Shipp are nursing ankle problems, either may play tonight if they’re fit enough for the substitute’s bench.
Portland are currently experiencing significant attrition, as top defensive midfielder Guzman is suspended for accumulated bookings and is out this match. Defenders, Meyer and Arokoyo are out this match with severe injuries. Usual first choice ‘keeper, Gleeson, top all-time vs. Seattle scorer, Adi, veteran defender, Ridgewell and reserve, Farfan are all listed as matchday decisions and may or may not take part in this evening’s high-profile derby.
The Bad News
Of our top five all-time goalscorers against Portland, three have left the club. Of Portland’s top four goalscorers against us all time, three of them are still there.
Between Valeri, Nagbe, Blanco, and Mattocks, the Treecutters can create a heap of trouble for us if they’re all on the same page. Should Adi, Gleeson, and Ridgewell find themselves fit enough to be in the team it will present an even more difficult challenge.
The metrics for this match are pretty even, though the history is lopsided. We defend a bit better than Portland does. Portland scores at a slightly higher rate than we do. We’ve played ever so slightly better against common opponents than they have this season. The edges seem all slightly in our favour. This rather reminds me of the pre-match analysis before our trip to Vancouver, which of course troubles me.
We looked all sorts of good against the Whitecaps, generally dominating both in possession and chance creation, yet we still dropped two points despite being up 0:1 on Lodeiro’s penalty kick and with the ‘Caps seeing Tchani sent-off on the hour mark. Once again we were torpedoed by former Sounders’ standout, Fredy Montero. Also in the vein of troubling factors in that match, 16-year-old Canada and Whitecaps starlet, Alphonso Davies set about cutting apart our veteran defence with jinking runs and penetrating passes. Scary.
Jones’ unauthorised and early departure to play for his national team is a troublesome development and makes me hope it’s not having an effect on club morale.
Know Thine Enemy
Attinella, 28, Attinella has only six appearances in the team but has been playing regularly of late. Don’t be too surprised though if regular first choice ‘keeper, Gleeson, 26, recovers from his hamstring problem and finds his way into the team.
Valentin, 26, played over 50 matches with Bodø/Glimt of the Norwegian league and has played over 40 times for Portland, and roughly 80 matches of MLS football. Valentin has played a lot at right back recently, but don’t be too surprised if Portland Manager, Caleb Porter, opts for the pace and versatility of Alvas Powell instead.
Mabiala, 29, an experienced French centre-half that has played seemingly every match since his signing in late June. Has played over 160 matches of Turkish league football, 36 times for Nice in France, and three times for Paris Saint-Germain. He has 12 caps for DR Congo.
Miller, 32, has played 21 times for the Treecutters this season. In addition to his 145 matches of MLS experience, Miller has also played nearly 50 times for CD Saprissa, over 50 times for Bodø/Glimt in Norway, 17 times for Rosenborg, as part of his European experience that totals 83 matches. He has played for Costa Rica nearly 60 times.
Andriuskevicius, 26, leads the league in last name syllables in addition to his 26 caps for Lithuania and over 100 matches of European football.
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. I believe he moves to a holding midfield role with the suspension of Guzman.
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.
Blanco, 29, has nearly 200 matches of experience in the Argentine league. He’s played nearly 70 matches in Ukrainian football, and three matches at West Bromwich Albion, before moving to Portland this season. He is on a Designated Player contract and has played 26 times for the Treecutters in his first MLS season. He was twice capped for Argentina.
Valeri, 31, is in the twilight of his career, or so we thought. 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. Currently is the 3rd best goalscorer in the league and has scored a goal in his last five matches.
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.
Mattocks, 26, has over 120 matches of MLS experience. Likely signed last year as cover for Adi, the Jamaican international has represented his country 39 times scoring 14 goals. Don’t be too surprised if Adi, one of the Treecutter’s deadliest strikers, convinces his manager that his hamstring problems are behind him in order to get a chance to face his club’s bitter rival.
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.
Sounders FC from: Frei, Miller, Meredith, Nouhou, Marshall, Alfaro, Leerdam, Torres, Fisher, Svensson, Alonso, Roldan, Rodriguez, Lodeiro, Kovar, Mallace, Shipp, Delem, Wingo, Mathers, Dempsey, Adekoya, Morris, Bruin, Neagle.
Portland from: Attinella, McIntosh, Gleeson, Powell, Andriuskevicius, Miller, Olum, Valentin, Okugo, Ridgewell, Clarke, Farfan, Nagbe, Valeri, Blanco, Asprilla, Zemanski, Chara, Barmby, Adi, Ebobisse, Mattocks, Arboleda.
Sounders FC –
OUT: Evans (back).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Neagle (ankle), Shipp (ankle).
OUT: Arokoyo (Achilles), Myers (hamstring).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Farfan (ankle), Ridgewell (quadriceps), Adi (hamstring), Gleeson (hamstring).
Sounders FC: None suspended.
Portland: Guzman (accumulated bookings).
Portland midfielder, Chara, suspended with next booking.
Sounders FC Reserves have won their last two matches, facing Portland Timbers Reserves and Vancouver Whitecaps Reserves, by a combined score of 5:1, with Parra, Mathers, Chenkam, Rogers, and Wingo scoring goals for us. Well done, lads. Keep it up.