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Five things we want to see when the Sounders take on the Timbers

The Sounders have enjoyed quite a lot of recent success in Portland.

Seattle Sounders FC v Portland Timbers Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The Seattle Sounders are as healthy as they’ve been all year, with “just” three players listed as out and Nouhou upgraded to questionable. This gives Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer a virtually full choice of options when he preps for the Portland Timbers.

Here’s what we’re hoping to see when they play at 7PM tonight:

Don’t waste this

Although the Sounders are mired in a season-worst three-game winless run and are just 1-3-1 in their last five, they are coming off a massive win against Tigres UANL in Leagues Cup play. As encouraging of performance as that was, Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer made sure to drive home the point that they couldn’t afford to “waste it” by not carrying that momentum in MLS play. The first opportunity to use that is tonight against the Timbers. The Sounders will likely use a similar — if not exactly the same — veteran-heavy lineup as the one that handled Tigres. The Sounders may have blown their chances at the Supporters’ Shield with their recent homestand, but winning the West and finishing as high in the standings as possible is still a worthy goal. — Jeremiah

More Lodeiro

Since returning from his injury last week, Lodeiro has made two substitute appearances. He saw about 5 minutes against FC Dallas, increased to 25 against Tigres in the Leagues Cup, and responded with one of the most impressive goals he’s scored for the Sounders. Schmetzer mentioned in his post-match press conference on Tuesday that Lodeiro is still “in his preseason” after recovering from his knee injury. The Sounders are undoubtedly better with Lodeiro on the field. I’d like to see Lodeiro start and get about 60 minutes. — Mark

Brad Smith returning to his best

We’ve talked a lot about who is the better left wingback for this system. Both Brad Smith and Jimmy Medranda have showed how their particular skillsets fit the position well. But with both healthy and fit, Schmetzer has a bit of a selection headache. Smith’s form this season has not been wonderful, especially since Nouhou has been out, but he’s been especially bad when he comes on as a substitute. I suspect Smith will get the start against Portland, but he needs to put in a worthwhile performance. Expect Medranda to enter late for a burst of energy. — Mark

The Kings of Cascadia

The three leading goal scorers in Cascadia are Fredy Montero, Clint Dempsey, and Raúl Ruidíaz. Dempsey has 9 goals against the Timbers, while Ruidíaz has 8 and Montero has 7. What’s more fun than a little competition between friends? Montero and Ruidíaz should both start against Portland tonight, and should be looking to add to their totals, given that the Timbers have only 1 shutout in their last 11 matches. — Mark

Home away from home

Wild as it may seem, the Sounders come into this game having won 3 of their last 4 and 4 of their last 6 games at Providence Park. They only won two of their first 12 trips to Portland. What’s even more wild is that a win today would equal the total number of times the Sounders have beaten the Timbers at Lumen Field in MLS play. All of which is to say that the Sounders have enjoyed quite a bit of recent success on trips down I-5. The recipe for success is relatively straightforward: score first and weather the storms. The Sounders scored the first goal in all four of those wins and the team who scores first has gone 6-0-1 in their past seven meetings. Aside from their earlier loss to the Sounders, though, the Timbers have been pretty good at home. Their 19 home points is tied for the second-most among Western conference teams. The Sounders have their work cut out for them. — Jeremiah

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