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August 24, 2014 at 9:00 AM

What to watch for: Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers

Seattle travels down to Portland for the final Sounders-Timbers match of the regular season Sunday at Providence Park, one with Supporter’s Shield implications for the former and playoff stakes for the latter.

Last time out: Sounders 2, Timbers 0 on July 13 at CenturyLink Field — Second-half goals from Clint Dempsey and Marco Pappa clinched Seattle’s second rivalry win of the week, as the Sounders had eliminated the Timbers from the U.S. Open Cup four days earlier.

Battle to watch: Seattle’s forwards vs. the Portland back line

At one point in the season, the Seattle front line couldn’t stop scoring goals and the Timbers defense couldn’t stop allowing them, as evidenced by the 4-4 free-for-all at Providence Park back in April.

But Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins, though they have scored 17 league goals between them this season, have combined on just one since the first week of June. Dempsey has scored once in six matches since his return from Brazil and the World Cup, while Martins is scoreless in MLS since he netted two against Chicago on June 7.

“I think the team in general hasn’t been playing as well as they could be,” Sounders defender Zach Scott said. “I think that makes it hard on guys like Clint and Oba and (Chad) Barrett, whoever is playing up top. We haven’t been giving them the service. It’s less about they way they’re playing and more about the balls they’re not getting.”

Player to watch: Portland defender Liam Ridgewell

The Timbers were averaging 1.69 goals allowed per match when it announced Ridgewell as a designated player signing in late June.

That has dropped to 1.4 in the five games the former West Brom man has started, and Portland’s form has also spiked with three wins and a draw.

If either team reverts to earlier form, the Sounders should walk out of Providence Park with all three points and rejuvenated for the stretch run. If not, expect a battle from start to finish.

How to watch: The match will be televised nationally on ESPN2, with kickoff scheduled for 2 p.m.

 

| More in Preview and prediction, Sounders FC

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