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May 14, 2011 at 12:33 AM

Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers, preview and prediction

Portland Timbers Logo.jpgSounders FC (3-3-4) vs. Portland Timbers (4-3-1)

Saturday, May 14, 8 p.m., Qwest Field, Seattle, Wash.

TV broadcast: ESPN 2/ESPN Deportes (Adrian Healey and John Harkes)

Radio broadcast: 97.3 KIRO-FM (Arlo White)

Referee: Jair Marrufo

KEY PORTLAND PLAYERS

M Jack Jewsbury — I knew this would be a money signing for the expansion side the moment I heard about it. Acquired from Kansas City in exchange for just some allocation money. Wow. Two goals, three assists, has played every minute wearing the captain’s armband. Will probably hit double-digit assists this season swinging in corners and free kicks to a bunch of big boys in the box.

F Kenny Cooper — He’s called offside a lot. Sometimes he goes to ground a bit easy (especially for a guy that’s a hulking 6-foot-3, 210 pounds). But this guy can put the ball in the net. He’s got a team-high three goals and has played all put one minute this season. An experienced 26-year-old that won’t be phased by the atmosphere.

D Mamadou Danso — Could just as well have chosen with Eric Brunner here, his center back partner, but you gotta go with anyone nicknamed “Futty” and puts it on the back of his jersey. Hasn’t committed a foul all season (unless he did last week and I missed it). Also a dangerous target on set pieces.

KEY MATCH-UPS

Diego Chara vs. Osvaldo Alonso — This is a match-up that Timbers coach John Spencer said would be key, so who am I to argue with that? Portland’s new DP is described as a box-to-box midfielder with good technical skill, by Seattle coach Sigi Schmid. I bet you never would’ve guessed Alonso ranks second on the team with 16 shots.

Nate Jaqua vs. Eric Brunner — In my opinion it’s time for Jaqua to step up. He’s played seven games and made two starts without a goal or assist, getting on the score sheet is long overdue. The 6-foot-4 Brunner has played every minute this season and will make things difficult in the back.

Playing under pressure vs. seeking a breakthrough — Seattle can’t lose this game. Huge crowd. Established success. Rivalry game against a first-year team in front of 36,000. I’ll say it again, Seattle can’t lose this game. On the flip side, Portland has nothing to lose. They’re not expected to win and can ride the adrenaline and emotion of the night while going after that elusive win on the road. Should be interesting.

PREDICTION

I don’t know what to expect. It’s a rivalry game. A derby game. Anything can happen. Throws records and form out the proverbial window. Both teams take pride in wanting to play an entertaining style, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of frantic action with chances up and down.

Seattle will probably boast the majority of the play, but it will come down to finishing chances. The anticipated return of Brad Evans I think will have a big impact for the home team on the field. Off the field, possible appearances by Steve Zakuani and O’Brian White could have an unmeasured affect.

I’m seeing an early lead for the home team and some late drama to hold on. Hopefully meeting deadline isn’t too crazy…

Sounders FC 2, Portland Timbers 1

SEA — Fredy Montero (Brad Evans) 42′

SEA — Nate Jaqua (Montero) 62′

POR — Jorge Perlaza (Kalif Alhassan) 77′

* * *

Your turn. How do you see the game playing out?

COMMENTS

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