by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)
Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. Once again the blinding spotlight, or in this instance the burning midday sun, focuses on Morrison Street, Portland, Oregon as we prepare for not just another derby match, but the centennial meeting of the Sounders and the hated Treecutters in league football! A historic occasion, leading us to wonder if the football will match up to the hype. To find out, we’ll just have to see.
For those of our number within ECS, and its sub-groups, remember to stick together and listen to your Travel Monkey. Keep your hands to yourselves and save your scorn for the ground, eyes bright, voices loud, and make us who remain behind so very proud of the support you give to our Boys in Green. As for the rest of our lot, we must gather the Green Family where we may, at the pub, or at each other’s homes. We get our people together and flip some beer mats, for that is the way.
Before the kick-off, join me in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB AND VICTORY!!!
The Good News
It was a pleasant surprise to watch a Sounders side full of rotation players defeat the injury-hobbled Toronto FC, four days ago, in a midweek fixture. I had my doubts after seeing the lineup and the change of formation. Thankfully my doubts were wiped away with a gutsy performance by the Sounders, who took their first away points of the season.
So many rotation players had good matches on Wednesday. Bwana scored his first league goal. Alfaro made some clutch plays after gaffing early, Wolff Eikrem played a brilliant through-ball to Bruin for the first goal. I was very impressed. Experience and confidence for our younger players banked last week may pay rich dividends in September.
Bruin is back to his finishing ways and not a moment too soon.
By the numbers, Portland are just as likely to concede two goals as to score two goals.
The all-time series in the league favours the Sounders as we’ve won nine of twenty, drawing six.
The Bad News
Last Wednesday’s match in no way reflects the match which will be played today. You’d have to imagine that both sides have managed their squads to ensure their best possible eleven players will be on the pitch for this historic match. This realisation generates more questions than it does answers. Will we line up in a 4-5-1 again? How many rotation players from the Toronto match earned a start at Morrison Street? Will Lodeiro attempt to play on a broken toe? Will Dempsey produce the type of performance that we’ve grown to expect of him in these derby matches?
The Sounders passing accuracy was at 69% in Toronto. Poor numbers considering how many first-choice players were out for TFC. The 33% possession numbers weren’t ideal, but in a winning effort can be overlooked. If we allow the Treecutters to play all the football today, the result might not be so palatable.
The Sounders are still averaging less than a goal per match, whilst our bitter rivals are averaging nearly two goals per.
The Treecutters earned a draw against a Dallas team that pasted us 3:0.
Portland are unbeaten at their Morrison Street ground this season. The Sounders have one away win in four attempts.
Portland have only lost once in their last six matches (3-2-1).
Centennial match between the clubs in all leagues. A historic occasion beyond the massive event of Portland and Seattle meeting in any match in any competition. In the words of the immortal De la Soul, “Stakes is high”.
Utterly indecent that ESPN is telecasting the match given its importance and ESPN’s grudging tolerance of proper football. ESPN demonstrate this disdain by repeatedly shifting MLS matches to overflow programming for even the most obscure university basketball match between Florida Gulf Coast U against a school I can’t remember, once jounced the beginning of the Sounders telecast to ESPN News. What will precede the MLS match this time? Drag Racing? Rodeo? Log Rolling? [Insert burst of frustrated expletives here]. Yeh, tell me how it is with the football Taylor Twellman. God sakes, Twellman is nearly as awful a commentator as Alexi Lalas. Think about how low that bar is.
General Notes on Personnel
Okugo and Zemanski were let go in the offseason by the Timbers. Mattocks went to DC United. Star midfielder Darlington Nagbe went to Atlanta United, as did his teammate Arokoyo. The Treecutters have, in my opinion, lost a lot of experience and skill that will be difficult to replace. Of their transfers and loans in, I haven’t heard of any of them.
I’ve listed Lodeiro as available for selection, but I think Schmetzer would be a fool to field Lodeiro on a broken toe. The Sounders keep saying to the press that Lodeiro is day to day. Okay, fine, but do you know how painful it is to put weight on a broken toe, much less spend 90 minutes at a dead run on it playing a game that requires you to kick a ball at high velocities?
Know Thine Enemy
(as they lined up 5 May at Coleman Avenue against San Jose)
Attinella, 29, has 16 appearances in the team during his two seasons in Portland. Attinella is a six-year MLS veteran, making 45 appearances for Salt Lake and Portland since 2013. Attinella has 11 career clean sheets. Don’t be too surprised though if Gleeson, 26, finds his way into the team for a match of this magnitude. Gleeson has played six matches this season to Attinella’s two.
Valentin, 26, played 55 matches with Bodø/Glimt of the Norwegian league and has played 47 times for Portland since his arrival in 2016. Valentin has played 87 matches of MLS football during his five years in the league.
Ridgewell, 33, 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, most notably for Aston Villa (79 matches/7 goals), Birmingham City (152/9), and West Bromwich Albion (76/2). The Bexleyheath native is also a threat to score. Since signing for Portland in 2015, Ridgewell has played 88 times for Portland scoring six goals.
Mabiala, 30, is an experienced French centre-half that has played seemingly every match since his signing in late June of 2017. Mabiala 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. Mabiala has played 21 times for Portland scoring once.
Powell, 23, is a Jamaican international with 16 caps for the Reggae Boyz. Powell has appeared for Portland 103 times scoring five goals during his six-year MLS career. Powell has 16 caps for Jamaica.
Polo, 23, is a Peruvian national, who signed with Portland just this year. Polo has played five of the club’s eight matches this season. Polo had previously played for Columbian giants, Milionarios (11 matches/2 goals) and Morelia (24/2) in Mexico’s Liga MX. Polo has 15 caps and one goal for Peru.
Chara, 32, a veteran of Colombian league football, has played 417 times as a professional. Chara has played 211 times for Portland scoring seven goals. Chara earned two caps for Columbia. Chara is Portland’s hard man in the midfield.
Paredes, 19 is a Paraguayan national with 38 matches of professional experience. He was loaned to Portland this season from Club America of Mexico. Paredes has played in all eight matches for Portland this season. Paredes has earned one cap for Paraguay.
Blanco, 30, 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 in 2017. Blanco is on a Designated Player contract and played 33 times for the Treecutters in his first MLS season. Blanco has played 41 matches scoring 12 goals for Portland since his arrival at Morrison Street in 2017. Blanco was twice capped for Argentina scoring once.
Valeri, 32, is in the twilight of his career, or so we thought. He played nearly 160 times for Lanus in his native Argentina. Valeri has played 156 times for Portland scoring 62 goals. Valeri is on a Designated Player contract, and has been and continues to be a persistent thorn in our collective bottoms. This season, Valeri has started all eight matches scoring four goals. Yeh, he’s getting long in the tooth, but he can hurt you with his goalscoring, playmaking, and set pieces. Valeri’s free-kick goal was the difference in San Jose in Portland’s last match. Valeri has earned three caps for Argentina.
Adi, 27, is the danger man up front. The Nigerian national is a lethal finisher and third part of Portland’s deadly triad of Designated Players. He has played nearly 200 times as a professional in a career that has seen him play matches in Slovakia, Ukraine, and Denmark. Adi has played 119 matches for Portland scoring 53 times since he signed in 2014. This season, Adi has played in seven of Portland’s eight matches scoring twice.
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 tendered by the former USL incarnation of the Portland Timbers as they were preparing to make their MLS debut.
Portland from: Attinella, Gleeson, McIntosh, Vytas Andriuskevicius, Cascante, Farfan, Jadama, Mabiala, Olum, Powell, Ridgewell, Tuiloma, Valentin, Arboleda, Asprilla, Barmby, Blanco, Chara, Flores, Guzman, Paredes, Valeri, Williamson, Adi, Armenteros, Langsdorf, Polo.
Sounders FC from: Frei, Meredith, Brown, Alfaro, Francis, Kim, Leerdam, Marshall, McCrary, Nouhou Tolo, Torres, Alonso, Bwana, Delem, Wolff Eikrem, Lodeiro, Neagle, Cristian Roldan, Alex Roldan, Shipp, Svensson, Wingo, Bruin, Dempsey.
OUT: Miller (Achilles tendon), Ebobisse (thigh).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Guzman (knee), Vytas Andriuskevicius (thigh), Tuiloma (thigh).
Sounders FC –
OUT: Morris (ACL), Rodriguez (knee surgery).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Lodeiro (broken toe), Torres (hamstring), Shipp (ankle), Francis (hamstring).
None suspended from either side.
I can’t manage to do any better than SoundersFC.com did in encapsulating the history of perhaps the most meaningful rivalry in American domestic football. But what I can do that might be a bit different is to showcase two stars from those first NASL teams in 1975. Jimmy Gabriel played for the Sounders from 1974-1979, playing 53 matches and scoring seven goals. Gabriel, a holding midfielder, had played the bulk of his career in England (1960-1974) with Everton (256 matches/33 goals), and Southampton (191/25). Gabriel earned two Scotland caps between 1960-1963. Peter Withe played for the Treecutters for only the NASL season of 1975 playing 22 matches and scoring 16 goals. The Liverpool born striker played most of his career in England (1971-1972, 1973-1975, 1975-1991) most notably for Nottingham Forest (75 matches/28 goals), Newcastle United (76/25), Aston Villa (182/74), and Sheffield United (74/18). Withe earned 11 caps for England between 1981-1984, scoring once.