SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC v. PORTLAND TIMBERS MLS CUP QUARTER-FINAL 2ND LEG – ROYAL BROUGHAM PARK, SEATTLE, WA

by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. It all comes down to tonight’s second leg in the MLS Cup Quarter-Final at 19:30 hours Pacific Time as our auld and bitter rivals the Treecutters of Portland make the voyage north to the Evergreen to face our beloved Sounders FC. At stake, advancement to the MLS Cup Semi-Finals. Aggregate score: 2:1 favouring the Treecutters.

League table position, irrelevant. Record against common opponents, useless. I have no idea what’s going to happen tonight, but I can tell you it’s not going to be boring getting there.

If you could make it to the ground for no other fixture this season, get yourself down to Occidental Avenue tonight for the conclusion of the MLS Cup Quarter-Final cup tie. I expect to see the Brougham End packed with supporters. Supporters who have rested their voices all day, and conserved their energy to support our beloved Sounders FC with every last erg of human and metaphysical energy possible.

Should you fail in your quest to secure a ticket, gather the Green Family where ye may. At the pub and at each other’s dwellings upon where you will mesh up your collective energies and channel them directly towards our Boys in Green.

It all comes down to tonight brothers and sisters. No quarter will be given. Voices loud, eyes bright. It’s time to demonstrate how football support is properly executed. I can think of no better group than ours. The best supporters in the entire bloody league, and perhaps in all of America. Sure, Timbers Army are going to show up in numbers, but so what? WE ARE LOUDER!!! SOUNDERS FOR THE CUP!

Join me before kick-off in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!

lodeiro
“It’s going to be a final. They know us, and we know them, but each game is different. We have to be concentrated and play the full 90 minutes, 180 minutes. There’s no tomorrow. If you lose this [series], you’re done.” – Nicolas Lodeiro (2 November 2018)
The Good News
The Sounders only need a 1:0 win (or any of a variety of possible results that show the Sounders ahead on aggregate goals) to send the Treecutters packing.

Seattle’s all-time record in the league when hosting Portland is 7-3-1. That’s right, only one loss ever in the friendly confines of Royal Brougham Park. Portland’s away record in the league is an underwhelming 4-5-8 this season. The all-time league matchup favours the Sounders 10-6-7. The Sounders home record this season is 10-2-5.

According to records for goals for/against, the Treecutters are the more statistically likely of the two sides to allow two goals in a match.

The Bad News
The Sounders have only been able to keep one clean sheet against the Treecutters all season. Should Portland score a goal, the scenario becomes much more complicated.

The Sounders loss at Morrison Street was the first defeat in six matches in the league and MLS Cup.

If you look at the numbers, the loss is baffling. The Sounders had the better of possession (55%), with the shots (11:9 to Portland), shots on target (4:3 to Portland), corner-kicks (7:6 to Portland), crosses (23:26 to the Sounders), passing accuracy (83%:79% Sounders), duels won (53-all), and tackles won (12:11 Portland) showing the Sounders close to, equal, or better than our Oregonian hosts. All of which begs the question: “What went wrong?”.

Kim was caught too high on the pitch and was beaten by Ebobisse’s pace. That can’t happen again.

Marshall our best centre-half and perhaps the best in the league has just had surgery to repair a meniscal tear, and Cristian Roldan looks to be out as well with a strained hip flexor. Marshall and Roldan are easily two of the most reliable players in the side. Although this is an advantage to Portland, Seattle have enough depth to cover both left centre-half (Kim and Svensson) and right-wing (Shipp, Lodeiro, Rodriguez, Ruidiaz, and possibly even Will Bruin) with quality footballers.

The Treecutters have only two injured players, Roy Miller of Portland and Costa Rica who hadn’t played in one league match, and Jake Gleeson who played only six times in the league this season. So the Treecutters have lost just a reserve player and a rotation player, whereas we have lost two members of the regular first-team in Marshall and Cristian Roldan. Three if you count Morris.

The Sounders are now 0-0-3 in three attempts in the MLS Cup against Portland. Seattle have never kept a clean sheet in the MLS Cup against Portland.

The Side I Would Select
GK Frei
LB Nouhou Tolo
LCH Kim
RCH Torres
RB Leerdam
LDM Alonso
RDM Svensson
LW Shipp
ACM Lodeiro
RW Rodriguez
ST Ruidiaz

The Side I Think The Gaffer Will Select
GK Frei
LB Nouhou Tolo
LCH Kim
RCH Torres
RB Leerdam
LDM Alonso
RDM Svensson
LW Rodriguez
CAM Lodeiro
RW Shipp
ST Ruidiaz

Intangibles
A sold-out Royal Brougham Park, jammed full of supporters that are unabashedly, completely, and deafeningly behind their Sounders.

Due to the high-stakes poker of hiding football injuries, it will be unknown if Cristian Roldan will start until just before kick-off.

The Sounders nearly matched or bettered the Treecutters in every facet of the game except goals scored. This is, as a concept, demoralising for our supporters. We can only hope that the Sounders squad are such professionals that they have emotionally wiped the slate clean in preparation to close out the cup tie.

General notes on personnel
Mabiala has served his one-match ban and will be available for the Treecutters tonight.

Portland have lost no top players to injury. The Sounders, however, may be without right-wing, Cristian Roldan, with star centre-half, Chad Marshall out for certain as he’s just had knee surgery. Left-back, Brad Smith’s injury status is unknown, and he continues to be listed as a matchday decision.

Expect Torres to play at right centre-half with Kim sliding left to deputise for the convalescing Marshall.

If Shipp plays alongside Lodeiro and Rodriguez in the midfield tonight, it should be noted that all three players can play as the #10 in addition to both wings. Maybe the Treecutters’ defence is in for a crap night.

Know Thine Enemy
(as they lined up in the first leg at Morrison Street four days ago)

Goalkeeper –
Jeff Attinella, 30, is a domestic footballer produced by South Florida (NCAA). Attinella has 36 appearances in the team during his two seasons in Portland. Attinella, formerly the goalkeeper for Tampa Bay Rowdies (52 matches/0 goals), is a six-year MLS veteran, making 65 appearances for Salt Lake and Portland since 2013. Attinella has 16 career clean sheets. Attinella has played only three MLS Cup matches with the Treecutters, winning once, losing once and drawing once with one clean sheet.

Defence –
Zarek Valentin, 27, is a domestic footballer produced by IMG Academy, PA Classics, and Akron (NCAA). Valentin played 55 matches with Bodø/Glimt of the Norwegian league and has played 71 times for Portland since his arrival in 2016. Valentin has played 111 matches of MLS football during his five years in the league scoring two goals and assisting on six. Valentin has played in two previous MLS Cup matches.

Bill Poni Tuiloma, 23, will be replaced by Larrys Mabiala, 31. Mabiala is a French national produced by Paris Saint-Germain. In his three seasons contracted to PSG, Mabiala would only appear three times in the league, scoring one goal. A loan to Plymouth in 2007 produced no appearances in the league. A 2009 move to Nice saw Mabiala settle in as a rotation player (36 matches over three seasons). Mabiala moved to Turkey in 2012 signing with Karabukspor (106 matches/3 goals) then of the Turkish top division. After three seasons with Karabukspor, Mabiala signed with Kayserispor (55/3) where he remained for two seasons. Mabiala made his move to Morrison Street in 2017 and has since played 44 matches scoring five goals over his two seasons in Portland. Although born in France, Mabiala has 12 caps for DR Congo. Mabiala has played one match of MLS Cup football in his career in the play-in at Dallas in which he was sent-off.

Liam Ridgewell, 34, is an English national footballer produced by West Ham and Aston Villa. Ridgewell, the old man of the Treecutters’ back four, 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 97 times for Portland scoring six goals over five seasons. Ridgewell has played in eight MLS Cup matches scoring one goal.

Jorge Villafana, 29, is a domestic footballer produced by Santa Ana DSP Juventus and Chivas USA. Beginning his career with Chivas USA (86 matches/7 goals) in 2007. Villafana would play six seasons with Chivas USA before moving to Portland in 2014. Villafana played two seasons with the Treecutters (52/2) before being sold to Santos Laguna in 2016. Villafana remained two seasons at Santos Laguna (53/0) before being bought back by the Treecutters in August 2018. It’s a crazy world. Villafana has played eight times for the Treecutters this season since his transfer, bringing his Portland totals to 60 matches with two goals and eight assists over three seasons. Villafana’s MLS totals are 146 matches scoring nine goals and assisting on 14 over 10 seasons. Villafana has played in nine MLS Cup matches and was a member of the Treecutters’ 2015 MLS Cup championship squad.

Midfield –
Diego Chara, 32, is a veteran of Colombian league football produced by Deportes Quindio. Chara began his career with Quindio (124 matches/2 goals) in 2004. In 2009, Chara was signed by America de Cali (31/1). At the end of the 2009-10 season, Chara signed with Deportes Tolima (51/5). Chara’s exploits at Tolima earned him a Designated Player contract with Portland in 2011. Chara has played 232 times for Portland scoring nine goals with 17 assists over eight seasons. Chara has played in 10 MLS Cup matches with Portland scoring two goals and assisting on one. Chara has two caps for Columbia. Chara is Portland’s hard man in the defensive midfield, so fouls and bookings are to be expected.

David Guzman, 28, is a Costa Rican international developed by Saprissa. From 2009-2016, Guzman played 214 times for Saprissa scoring 18 goals. Guzman signed with Portland in 2017 and has since played 39 matches scoring four goals with seven assists. Guzman has played two MLS Cup matches with Portland. Guzman has 51 caps for Costa Rica.

Sebastian Blanco, 30, is an Argentine international produced by Lanus. Blanco began his career at Lanus (128/19) where he played from 2006-2011. Blanco moved to Ukranian club Metalist Kharkiv (68/10) in 2011. Three years later, Blanco would play three matches at West Bromwich Albion before being loaned to San Lorenzo (55/9) in 2015. Blanco would go on to sign with San Lorenzo and played there until being signed by Portland in 2017. Blanco is on a Designated Player contract and has played 64 matches scoring 18 goals and assisting on 19 for Portland whilst committing 90 fouls during his two seasons at Morrison Street. Blanco was twice capped for Argentina scoring once. Blanco has played in two MLS Cup matches.

Diego Valeri, 32, is in the twilight of his career, or so we thought. Valeri played nearly 160 times for Lanus in his native Argentina. Valeri has played 180 times for Portland scoring 68 goals with 65 assists over six seasons. Valeri is on a Designated Player contract, and he has been and continues to be a persistent thorn in our collective bottoms. Yeh, he’s getting long in the tooth, but he can hurt you with his goalscoring, playmaking, and set pieces. Valeri has three caps for Argentina. Valeri has played in 12 MLS Cup matches with the Treecutters, scoring two goals and assisting on six with 16 fouls committed, three of which he was booked for. Valeri is as vital to the Treecutters as Lodeiro is to the Sounders.

Andy Polo, 24, is a Peruvian national, who signed with Portland just this year. Polo has played in 23 of the club’s 34 matches this season. Since his arrival at Morrison Street in 2018, Polo has played 23 matches for Portland with one goal and two assists. Polo had previously played for Columbian giants, Milionarios (11 matches/2 goals), Universitario (57/5) in Peru, and Morelia (24/2) in Mexico’s Liga MX. Polo has 17 caps and one goal for Peru. Polo has played in two MLS Cup matches.

Forward –
Jeremy Ebobisse, 21, is a French-born, domestic footballer produced by Bethesda SC and Duke (NCAA). In 2015, Ebobisse began his career with DC United U-23s (9 matches/6 goals) in the PDL. Ebobisse signed with USL side Charleston Battery (5/2) a year later. In 2017, Ebobisse was drafted by the Treecutters with Portland trading $100,000 in allocation money and the tenth overall pick to Houston to move up to the fourth selection. Since his arrival at Morrison Street, Ebobisse has played 23 matches scoring three goals and assisting on five over two seasons. Ebobisse has three matches of MLS Cup experience scoring one goal. Ebobisse was a standout on the recent USA 2017 U-20 World Cup side. You have to watch out for any footballer that Tab Ramos (USA U-20 manager and former standout international for the Yanks) has marked for success.

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 tendered by the former USL incarnation of the Portland Timbers as they were preparing to make their MLS debut.

Squads
Portland from: Attinella, McIntosh, Clark, Barmby, Cascante, Farfan, Jadama, Mabiala, Olum, Powell, Ridgewell, Tuiloma, Valentin, Villafana, Arboleda, Asprilla, Blanco, Chara, Conechny, Flores, Guzman, Paredes, Valeri, Armenteros, Ebobisse, Langsdorf, Melano, Polo.

Sounders FC from: Frei, Meredith, Brown, Alfaro, Francis, Kim, Leerdam, McCrary, Nouhou Tolo, Torres, Alonso, Bwana, Delem, Lodeiro, Rodriguez, Alex Roldan, Shipp, Svensson, Wingo, Bruin, Neagle, Ruidiaz.

Injury List
(as listed on mlssoccer.com at press time)

Portland –
OUT: Miller (thigh), Gleeson (broken leg).
MATCHDAY DECISION: none.

Sounders FC –
OUT: Morris (ACL), Chenkam (herniated disc), Marshall (meniscal tear).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Smith (hamstring), Cristian Roldan (groin).

Discipline
(as listed on mlssoccer.com at press time)

Portland: none suspended. Ridgewell and Chara are carrying bookings from the play-in at Dallas.

Sounders FC: none suspended. Svensson is carrying a booking from the first leg.

Fun Fact
soundersfc.com reports that Sounders’ reserves defender, Denso Ulysse was named to the USL All-League Second Team. Well done, Denso! Way to make us proud and chuff us up.

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