By Will Conwell
The game starts at 2:00 PM on ESPN. If you do not have cable or want a good Portland establishment to enjoy with friends, we have a couple suggestions from our sponsors.
Watch Timbers Games in Portland:
East Burn (East Burnside & 18th) | (503) 236-2876 | More info: www.theeastburn.com
East Burn will have the game on a large projection screen on their heated patio and also downstairs. Recess discount menu from 3-6PM. They have daily drink specials (pdf of specials here).
Blitz (Ladd, Pearl, Tigard, NW 21) | More info: blitzbarpdx.webs.com
Blitz’s FOUR locations will be happening as always with tons of televisions, drinks specials, and games (ping pong, shuffleboard, buckhunters, horseshoes in Tigard, and more).
Game Preview: Portland Timbers vs Seattle Sounders
Game 14: Portland Timbers (3W-6L-4T) vs Seattle Sounders (7W-4L-4T)
Sunday, June 24, 2 p.m.
Previous match-up(s): 5/14/11 1-1 Away Tie, 7/10/11 3-2 Home Loss
Listen/Watch: ESPN, 750 AM: THE GAME, PortlandTimbers.com
FREE BUS RIDES TO GAMES: Ride Blitz Bus To Portland Timbers Games | FREE Rides from Blitz Tigard & Ladd to Jeld-Wen Field
The Timbers take on the Seattle Sounders today at Jeld-Wen Field in one of North American soccer’s greatest rivalries, the Cascadia Cup. Since the two teams first squared off in 1975, the rivalry has been growing in the fertile soil of the American Northwest. Both teams come into this match needing a win to turn things around. Seattle, who only failed to win one game in their first eight, are now winless in six, while the Timbers sit in last place in the west (even with at least two games in hand against every other team in the conference).
The two teams’ storied rivalry was rekindled with the Timbers’ step up to Major League Soccer last year. In the team’s first meeting in league play last season, the Timbers played one of their best road games of the year, eking out a 1-1 draw on the strength of a headed in free kick by defender Futty Danso. Unfortunately, the Timbers were not so lucky in their home leg, falling to Seattle 3-2 and giving up the lead two times in the process.
However, in a rivalry match as intense as this one, history and form mean little. The Timbers boast three former Glasgow Rangers players on their roster in Kris Boyd, Steven Smith, and coach John Spencer, all of whom have played in the famous Old Firm derby between Ranger and Celtic, the two giants of Scottish soccer. Each was quick to emphasize the importance of the match up and just how little what came before it mattered.
For the Timbers there are several question marks in this week’s line-up. At forward, last week’s starter Danny Mwanga has been recovering from a thigh contusion all since last Sunday’s game against LA, paving the way for a possible start for ex-Sounder Mike Fucito. At the back, Steven Smith returns from his wedding in Scotland and will likely play, although some concerns about his match fitness remain, particularly with Kris Boyd being surprisingly substituted against the Galaxy last week. The Timbers’ other question mark is who will start on the wings. With Kalif Alhassan and Franck Songo’o playing out wide next week they will likely get the call again, but Eric Alexander, Sal Zizzo, and even Darlington Nagbe if he does not play in the center of the pitch, are all possibilities.
The Timbers are missing some personnel to injuries and suspensions. Eric Brunner has been out since before the break with a concussion that he is still recovering from while Rodney Wallace picked up an ankle strain while with the Costa Rican national team. Neither player practiced this week. Missing thanks to a retroactive suspension assigned on Friday is Hanyer Mosquera. Mosquera will miss three games, starting with today’s, for puching LA Galaxy forward Jack McBean in the final minute of last week’s game.
For the Sounders, the most hated names are all back. Fredy Montaro, the team’s talismanic striker since they joined MLS, has been a lone bright light for Seattle in recent games, producing some outragious bits of skill that the Timbers defense will need to be on guard against. Roger Leveque, who may be public enemy number one in Portland thanks to his previous goal scoring ways against the Timbers, is also still with the team, although he has not provided nearly the boost to the Sounders that he has in recent years.
The today’s game will be the Sounders’ third in eight days, coming off of the break and, with a US Open Cup match on Tuesday, Seattle may be tempted to play line-up featuring less than their best eleven. However, an experienced campainer like Seattle coach Sigi Schmid will surely understand the importance of a derby match like this and the odds are that the Timbers will see a full strength squad today.
On offense, the Timbers need to make their shots count. Seattle has shown off a stingy defense this year and, on Wednesday, they only gave up one goal to the highly touted attack of Sporting Kansas City, and even that was off of a deflection. The Timbers will also need to provide good service to Kris Boyd. Against LA,Boyd got a shot off each time the ball was played to his feet in the vicinity of the box. Unfortunately, that was only two times in seventy minutes.
On defense, the Timbers will need to be prepared for the Sounders’ counter attack. On Wednesday, Seattle carved SKC apart on the break with playmakers like Mauro Rosales and Fredy Montaro picking out their teammates with precision passes or making runs themselves. Fouls in and around the box are also something that the Timbers will need to watch out for. As a team the Timbers have been guilty of giving up fouls around the box since their promotion to MLS and in Seattle they have an opponent that are both skilled at drawing fouls and skilled at converting from them.
TIMBERS LEADING SCORERS
Kris Boyd – 4
Darlington Nagbe – 3
Kalif Alhassan – 1
Andrew Jean-Baptiste – 1
Eric Brunner – 1
6/30 @ Colorado Rapids
7/3 vs. San Jose Earthquakes
7/7 @ Real Salt Lake
7/14 vs.Los Angeles Galaxy
7/18 @ Chivas USA
TIMBERS PREDICTED LINE-UP
Jewsbury (RB), Horst (CB), Futty (CB), Smith (LB)
Songo’o (RM), Nagbe (CM), Chara (CM), Alhassan (LM)
Boyd (F), Fucito (F)
The Timbers could rewrite their whole season with a win here and, with Seattle struggling in recent weeks, there has never been a better time to get the team’s first win against the Sounders since joining the league. The team will need passion and skill, both of which have lacked at times this year, but they are capable of getting the win. This team need to seize the day and show just what it is that they are capable of.
Pipeline’s Portland Timbers coverage by:
Will Conwell is an aspiring novelist who spends his free time unloading trucks in warehouses. His passions in life are soccer, beer, and writing, which he has found are best enjoyed in concert. Will can be contacted at [email protected] or on twitter at TimbersPipeline.