Sounders FC (8-4-8) vs. Portland Timbers (5-8-3)
Sunday, July 10, 1 p.m., Jeld-Wen Field, Portland, Ore.
TV: ESPN (Glenn Davis, John Harkes)
Radio: KIRO 97.3-FM (Arlo White)
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
KEY TIMBERS PLAYERS
M Jack Jewsbury — In early June selected media members were asked to pick a First XI. He earned my vote. Back then Portland was an upstart and successful first-year team, but even during these struggles he’s still the heart of the team. Four goals and six assists are each team highs. Can provide deadly service on set pieces.
D Eric Brunner — When Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid was with the Columbus, he couldn’t help but notice a Ohio State center back that dominated in the air. That player was Brunner, and Schmid had hopes from early on to get him on his team. Has played 15 games and is coach John Spencer’s most reliable defender.
M Darlington Nagbe — Most MLS fans know he scored a goal to remember last week in a home loss to Sporting Kansas City. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more to come from the talented rookie from Akron. Dealt with a sports hernia and subsequent surgery early in the year, but could be someone that shines in the second half of the season.
Kalif Alhassan vs. James Riley — How he goes, the team goes. Portland’s left winger has had an assist in four of the Timbers’ five wins this season. He’s been shutout in the last six games, of which his team has gone 0-5-1. If he can get going against Seattle’s right back, the home side might be in business.
Jorge Perlaza vs. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado — It came up a bit before the previous meeting, but these two standouts are actually cousins. Perlaza has played all sixteen games this season and has a modest three goals. Has all the tools to be a successful goal-scorer and will need to carry the offensive load due to Kenny Cooper’s inconsistency.
Recent form vs. age-old rivalry — Sounders FC is unbeaten in seven games. Portland is winless in six. Seems like the hot team should be a position to roll over the struggling expansion side, but everyone involved has said rivalry games are different. Who am I to argue? But will it play out like that?
This is another fun one, but highly anticipated games tend to get sloppy. While the weather conditions won’t likely be wet and slippery, the field dimensions are smaller, which could similarly lead to a hectic, frantic game.
The Timbers will be fueled by a raucous home crowd and should be expected to fight until the end. I’m not sure I trust the Seattle offense yet, especially on the road, where Fredy Montero’s last gasp winner in Toronto was the only goal in the last three away games.
In the end, I think I see this one playing evenly.
Sounders FC 1, Portland Timbers 1
SEA: Hurtado (Wahl) 32′
POR: Nagbe (un) 66′
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What do you see from this one?