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June 24, 2012 at 7:04 AM

Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers, preview and prediction

Portland Timbers Logo.jpgSounders FC (7-4-4) vs. Portland Timbers FC (3-6-4)

Sunday, June 24, 2 p.m. JELD-WEN Field, Portland, Ore.

TV: ESPN (Glenn Davis, Kasey Keller)

Radio: 97.3 KIRO-FM (Ross Fletcher, Peter Fewing)

Spanish radio: La Gran D 99.3 FM

Referee: Ricardo Salazar

KEY TIMBERS PLAYERS

F Kris Boyd — A game changer. Sure his four goals this season might not blow anyone away, but that’s as many as Fredy Montero and Eddie Johnson have. He has the resume and physical tools to emerge as one of the best scorers in the league and he knows all about rivalry games coming from perhaps the most intense one in the world (Rangers-Celtic in Scotland).

GK Troy Perkins — His 1.10 goals-against average is third-best in the league for goalkeepers that have started at least eight games. A veteran presence, he’s always capable of a Save of the Week candidate. I think he won that award in this same fixture last year with a stunning reflex save on Montero.

D Futty Danso — He’s played four games against the Sounders, having featured in both Open Cup games in 2009-10, and that’s the most on the team. Expect him to play a role Sunday as Hayner Mosquera has been suspended three games for throwing a punch and Eric Brunner is out with a concussion. You’ll remember he scored a big goal in Seattle last year.

KEY MATCHUPS

Darlington Nagbe vs. Osvaldo Alonso — The talented Timber from Akron has been playing a little bit as an attacking midfielder these days, which is an interesting move. He’s got the ability to make that position his own and you never know when he might uncork one of these. Against Seattle, however, it’s not the most glamorous position with Alonso defending.

Roger Levesque vs. Mike Fucito — These are the two wildcards Sunday. Sounders coach Sigi Schmid implied Levesque might play a part and Alvaro Fernandez’ suspension appears to open that door. Timbers coach John Spencer raved about Fucito this week and you have to think he’ll see some crucial minutes, as well.

Spencer vs. Schmid — Both teams are struggling and need to find points. Realistically, both need a win. It’s no secret the pressure is building on Spencer and Schmid also has to worry about managing the roster for a “must win” game Tuesday in an Open Cup quarterfinal against San Jose.

PREDICTION

Prediction? Fun. These games are a joy and a treat to watch and cover. Jeff Parke was saying this week that it’s the type of entertainment that transcends the sport and can appeal even to non-soccer fans. ESPN will provide that opportunity.

I think this is going to be an open, physical, chances-galore type of game. And from what the Sounders have been saying in the buildup, it’s hard not to expect a strong lineup despite the fixture congestion.

When it comes to my pick, don’t forget, Seattle has a guy that’s pretty good in these rivalry games on the road…

Sounders FC 3, Portland Timbers 2

SEA — Fredy Montero (Marc Burch) 34′

SEA — Brad Evans (pk) 43′

POR — Kris Boyd (pk) 57′

SEA — Fredy Montero (Mauro Rosales) 70′

POR — Mike Fucito (Sal Zizzo) 85′

* * *

What do you think? How do you see this rivalry clash playing out?

COMMENTS

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