Sounders FC (13-7-10) vs. Portland Timbers (7-15-9)
Sunday, Oct. 7, 6 p.m., CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.
National TV: ESPN (Adrian Healey, Taylor Twellman)
Local radio: KTTH 770 AM (Ross Fletcher, Kasey Keller)
Referee: Jair Marrufo
KEY TIMBERS PLAYERS
M Jack Jewsbury — Hasn’t had quite the season he had last year (two goals and four assists in 2012 compared to seven goals and eight assists in 2011), but he still leads the team in games, starts and minutes. The 10-year league veteran will be a steadying presence with the Cascadia Cup on the line and a crowd of more than 66,000 expected. Can provide decent set-piece service, as well.
D David Horst — He’s shown very well in the two previous games against the Sounders this season. Defensive burden at center back might fall heavier on his shoulders if Hayner Mosquera is unable to go with a hamstring injury. One of the biggest guys in MLS and a dominant presence in the air. Expect him to match up often with Eddie Johnson and be the target on set pieces.
M Diego Chara — I noted earlier on the blog that Colombia media are in town for the game, and there will be more countrymen than just the Sounders’ Fredy Montero and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado to watch. Chara is a two-way midfielder that showed well in the last game in Portland before leaving with an adductor strain. Listed as probable, so I expect him to play. Surprisingly has no goals or assists this season.
Bright Dike vs. Jeff Parke — The Timbers forward has nearly made fans forget about Kris Boyd (though the DP did enough of that on his own). Dike has four goals in six starts and you might remember him being one of the best players on the field in a 2010 U.S. Open Cup game against the Sounders before Portland’s MLS leap. And would anyone have guessed Parke is second on the team in minutes behind only Osvaldo Alonso?
Mauro Rosales vs. Steven Smith — Both these guys missed the last meeting at Jeld-Wen Field (Rosales was out with the quad injury and Smith was suspended due to yellow card accumulation). Expect them to feature a lot in this one as Seattle likes to play through the right side in the attack and Smith has made the left-back position his own this season.
66,000 motivation vs. Cascadia Cup motivation — Sounders coach Sigi Schmid mentioned this after the last meeting and again in the buildup to this one: This game is essentially a championship game for the Timbers, who have little to play for aside from the Cascadia Cup. While motivation might not be exactly the same, a packed CenturyLink Field will spur the home side, as well.
The Sounders are a better team than they’ve been recently (1-1-3 since the start of September) and I think this is the game it shows. Seattle, which can jump into third in the West with a win, should be at full strength again and rested. Huge crowds have always been met with big wins, too.
The Timbers have a few injury worries and, oh yeah, haven’t won on the road this season at 0-11-4. Their minus-23 goal differential away from home is by far the worst in MLS, and I think it gets worse after Sunday’s game.
Here’s how I see it playing out.
Sounders FC 3, Portland Timbers 1
SEA — Eddie Johnson (Mauro Rosales) 24′
SEA — Fredy Montero (un) 44′
POR — Darlington Nagbe (Franck Songo’o) 77′
SEA — Osvaldo Alonso (pk) 85′
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How do you see this one going?