FULL-TIME: Given a chance to equalize on a dubiously awarded 79th penalty, Victor Rodriguez’s attempt hit the crossbar, allowing the Portland Timbers to eek out a 2-1 victory in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday.
The Timbers went ahead in the 50th minute when Brian Fernandez got free on a counter-attack, beating Bryan Meredith.
As they did in the first half, the Sounders played better after surrendering and had several good opportunities to equalize. Aside from Rodriguez’s miss, they also had a half-volley from Henry Wingo that Steve Clark managed to punch away. The Sounders finished with a 24-13 shots advantage.
HALFTIME: Things got off to a rough start for the Sounders as the Timbers dominated the early play and Brian Fernandez gave the visitors the lead with a 6th minute left-footed strike from just outside the penalty area. But after the goal, the Sounders seemed to settle down and soon started creating chances of their own. Nouhou and Victor Rodriguez both had open looks at goal only to be denied by Steve Clark.
Rodriguez finally got his goal in the 44th minute when his free kick from about 25 yards out deflected off the wall and past Clark. That sent the Sounders into halftime tied 1-1, while outshooting the Timbers 11-4.
LINEUPS: Both teams are fielding close to their best possible lineups. Among the notable starters for the Timbers are all three Designated Players Diego Valeri, Sebastian Blanco and Brian Fernandez. The Sounders, who are missing all three of their DPs due to international duty, have a starting lineup full of First-Teamers including Victor Rodriguez, Harry Shipp and Will Bruin.
The Sounders head into this year’s Open Cup having won it four times, but not since 2014. The Timbers have never won the Open Cup.
Absences: Injury, international duty and suspension
- QUESTIONABLE: D - Kim Kee-hee (left knee pain), M - Victor Rodriguez (left hamstring strain)
- OUT: GK - Aljaz Ivacic (left tibial stress fracture 2/15, out 6-8 weeks)
REF: Alex Chilowicz
AR1: Baboucarr Jallow
AR2: Cameron Siler
4TH: Chipalo Street
Usually this section is reserved for 2 to 4 keys to the game. Instead, we did a round of questions with Will Conwell from Stumptown Footy.
SAH: This will be the fourth time since 2014 that the Sounders have hosted the Timbers in the Open Cup. Their previous two meetings happened in 2009 and 2010 in Portland. Needless to say, that’s a lot. Is there a bit of fatigue in Portland having to face your nearest rival so often in this tournament?
STF: In a word: yes.
In three words: good lord, yes.
Look, it will be an entertaining game. The animus between the two teams will not somehow be diluted. The eye-roll-inducing fatigue that fans feel each time these teams are forced together will go away as soon as the first ball is kicked.
Still, the magic of the cup competitions comes from the buildup to the match. The amateur team making a run and taking on professional opposition; the ambitious USL side looking to prove themselves against the big boys of MLS; and even the two rivals meeting in a do-or-die match with cup glory on the line are all great moments that we should look forward to from the Open Cup. But we don’t get that.
We get another random, mid-week, summer match with no investment and somehow even lower stakes than a regular league match. Until the match starts, of course.
SAH: The Open Cup has not been historically kind to the Timbers. Is there an overarching reason for that, or is it just down to happenstance?
STF: Well, playing away at Seattle (or or even San Jose) is not exactly the easiest start to any Open Cup run.
That said, it is not like the Timbers have historically undervalued the Open Cup. As one should expect from an organization run by Gavin Wilkinson, the Timbers always try to extract maximum value from the Cup giving as many minutes to reserves and young players as they think they can while still putting up a competitive side for the opposition that they are expecting. Sometimes that means just running out the first choice XI and sometimes that means basically fielding a starting lineup that would look more at home at a T2 match.
Sometimes that has worked out for them. Sometimes it decidedly has not.
The Timbers have amassed a 9-8 record in the Open Cup since joining MLS back in 2011, which is... fine. Not good. Not bad. Just fine.
SAH: How strong of a lineup do you expect the Timbers to roll out? Predictions?
STF: With a nice, long break on either side of today’s match, new Designated Player Brian Fernandez still being integrated into the team, and coming up against a Sounders side that has always taken the Cup seriously, it seems likely that the Timbers will run out a starting XI that is close to their first choice.
Of course, there will likely be some absences with players recovering from injury or away on national team duty. Andy Polo, Andres Flores, Renzo Zambrano, Eryk Williams, and Marco Farfan are all on call-ups, leaving the Timbers without most of their midfield depth. At the same time, the Timbers may also be without starting center backs Larrys Mabiala and Bill Tuiloma as the pair have both dealt with knocks recently.
At the very least, the Sounders can expect to see Sebastian Blanco nipping at their ankles as the feisty Argentine is set to serve a one-match suspension in league play for yellow-card accumulation.
How to Watch
Match date/time: June 12th, 7:30 PM PT
Venue: Cheney Stadium, Tacoma
Online Streaming: ESPN+ (affiliate link)
Highlights will be posted as the match progresses.
This is Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers; watch with us
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