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Sounders at Portland Timbers Cascadia Cup - Gamethread

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Never Give This Away
Never Give This Away

Today is a huge day for MLS. It is the first MLS game on broadcast television (NBC) in four years, and while the 12:30 Pacific start goes directly against college football the match between the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders will have an atmosphere familiar to college football fans. These rivals belong on any list of top rivals in the league and Portland's poor performance is nearly meaningless.

Two of the Timbers' seven wins are against Cascadia Cup rivals and at home they have a +3 goal differential. Seattle though eats up poor teams. In 2012 they are 7-2-4 against teams outside of the Sagarin top 10. They have a +3 goal differential on the road. Those stats indicate that this match should be close. The fuel of fan passion will make it even closer. Still, on the season Seattle is clearly the more talented side. The Sounders dominate the predictive stats, primarily due to their great play from the forward pairing and the defense led by Gspurning.

But those three men are not the matchups that will make this game. The shape and tactics that the Timbers use now will put extra pressure on the defensive line. As Bright Dike bodies up on one of the defenders Jeff Parke said after Thursday's practice, "It definitely poses a little bit of a challenge because if you're not clean and you're not ready for loose balls the ball being held up and then dropped back with nobody behind you the next thing you know it could be a long day" when one of the band of three sprints into the box. Osvaldo Alonso will match almost directly against Darlington Nagbe. That should limit play in the middle, but when Nagbe drifts wide how that marker on Dike and Alonso adjust will be the difference in chances for the Timbers.

Offensively the Sounders will need to punish the flanks. Once through the compact midfield (hey there tiny Glass House) Seattle will have the advantage no matter who starts on the left and right wings. Their service into the potent paring of Fredy Montero and Eddie Johnson will be key. The Timbers are weak defensively in tight spaces and in the air. EJ7 has more goals from his head than any player in MLS history since the stat has been tracked. Service to the head game is vital.

A win by Portland means that they win the Cascadia Cup in a three way contest for the first time (second if you go back to year one of this rivalry). Any other result keeps the Sounders alive in that competition as well as the competition for the Supporters' Shield and strengthens Seattle's chances at hosting an MLS Cup Final again.

The broadcast is on NBC, yes NBC and 97.3 FM at 12:30 PM Pacific.

Pre Match Build-up: Three Questions | Scouting Report | Tickets for Home Games

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Officials

Referee: Ricardo Salazar - MLS Career: 157 games; FC/gm: 27.0; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 45; pens: 57
AR1 (bench): Peter Manikowski; AR2 (opposite): Mike Kampmeinert; 4th: Jesus Cisneros

SUSPENDED: POR: Steven Smith (caution accumulation; through Sept. 15)
SUSPENDED Next Yellow: POR: Jack Jewsbury SEA: Eddie Johnson, Fredy Montero

Team Statistics Matchups

Team Shots +/- Run of Play Dead Ball Net Strike Rate Net On Frame
Seattle 1.1 8 5 3.6% 4.0%
Balsa -0.3 -17 4 -5.4% -8.0%

Tactical Keys

  • Early Strength
  • Flank Play
  • Beware Off Post-up Runners
  • Head Games

Player Matchups

  • Osvaldo Alonso v Darlington Nagbe
  • Steve Zakuani v Kosuke Kimura
  • Mauro Rosales Brad Evans v Rodney Wallace

Lineups

Seattle: Gspurning, Johansson, Parke, Hurtado, Gonzalez, Evans, Alonso, Rose, Zakuani, Montero, Johnson
Bench: Ford, Scott, Burch, Martinez, Ianni, Caskey, Ochoa

Portland: Ricketts, Kimura, Mosquera, Horst, Wallace, Nagbe, Jewsbury, Chara, Zizzo, Dike, Songo'o
Bench: Bendik, Danso, Alexander, Alhassan, Boyd, Fucito, Mwanga.

How We're Watching
Beverage
: Sounders Shots
Scarf: Heritage Scarf
Kit: One Nation Under Sigi
Where I'm Watching: The Berliner

Nos Audietis In Somniis | Nos Audietis In Altum

YOU WILL HEAR US