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Practice Notes: All eyes on Sunday

Seattle is getting ready for Portland

TUKWILA, Wash. — With the midweek friendly against Borussia Dortmund firmly in the rearview mirror, the Seattle Sounders got back to work Friday, as they prepare to welcome the biggest rivals in MLS to CenturyLink Field on Sunday evening.

The Wednesday friendly allowed the Sounders to get some reserves some playing time and showcase some younger players, and the team escaped the game with no injuries. The Portland Timbers are coming into town off a disappointing draw Thursday against Orlando in which they outshot the visitors 26-2. Coach Brian Schmetzer watched the game and noted how dangerous the Timbers are, especially in transition.

“Against Portland, you have to be extra careful,” Schmetzer said. “If you’re sloppy with one touch, a bad pass, a bad decision, all of a sudden they’re out on the break.”

Schmetzer said that another key to the game will be the Sounders’ “active defending,” which is to say being alert to where the Timbers are, even when the Sounders are in possession of the ball. “As you possess the ball, we need to know where [Diego] Valeri is, Blanco, we need to know where their key guys are,” Schmetzer said.

Goalkeeper Stefan Frei echoed Schmetzer’s thoughts about the dangers of Portland’s transition, pointing out that the way the Timbers play invites teams to attack, which can cause problems when the ball is turned over.

“I think sometimes you can maybe get sucked into overcommitting,” Frei said. “And then Blanco all those other players counter very quickly and finding themselves 3-2. I think our overall shape defensively when we’re still in possession is going to be key for our center backs.”

The Sounders are mostly at full strength for this game, though Victor Rodriguez is still training on the side. Asked to provide an update, Schmetzer indicated they are being a bit careful, given the midfielder’s recurring hamstring issues.

“Victor we’re going to be a bit more cautious with because that’s a muscular injury,” Schmetzer said. “We’ve gotta be careful, he’s done it now twice so we’ve gotta slow play that one.” Schmetzer didn’t rule Rodriguez out for the game however, only saying, “we’ll see.”

Notes:

  • The Cascadia Cup is effectively on the line this weekend. With a win, the Sounders officially eliminate Portland, and hold the tiebreakers with Vancouver. “We understand it’s the Cup, and we’ll be ready,” Schmetzer said.
  • Right back Kelvin Leerdam took a small knock during the game versus Dortmund Wednesday, and was a light participant at training today, but Schmetzer indicated there was no issue. “He just got a little kick from the game the other night, he’ll be fine,” Schmetzer said.

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