It's the match every year that needs no hype. Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers. The oldest and fiercest rivalry in American Soccer's past and present. However, the rivalry has been one way traffic as of late with the Timbers winning four of the last five, drawing the other.
Can the Sounders turn things around and finally beat their most bitter rivals? Will Portland's new manager give them a much needed bounce for the remainder of the season? Let's take a look at how this one might play out.
One key stat
5 - The Sounders have not beaten the Timbers in their last 5 tries, their longest winless streak in the history of the rivalry.
It might feel like a bit of an overstatement, but bare with me: this is the most important Cascadia rivalry match in at least five years. Maybe even more. A win for either team could completely change the trajectory of their season and a loss would be disastrous.
The Timbers are coming into this one having just fired Giovanni Savarese, their head coach for over five years. They currently sit 12th in the table and are in danger of missing the playoffs for two consecutive seasons, after hosting the 2021 MLS Cup (they lost to NYCFC). One of his assitants, Miles Joseph, has taken over as interim head coach. If he can beat Seattle in just his third match as head coach? Who knows where that could propel him.
The pressure, however, has to be immensely one-sided on Saturday. Brian Schmetzer and the Sounders are coming off of a potential season-saving victory on Wednesday night in Austin, thanks to a stoppage time winner from Albert Rusnák. Savarese had been able to get the best of Schmetzer over the years, but now he's gone. If the Sounders follow up such an important victory with a fifth loss in six matches against Portland, who has a freshly appointed interim head coach, the season could be on the brink of collapse.
It doesn't matter how or why, but the Sounders absolutely need to win on Saturday.
How close to full strength is everyone?
- The Sounders didn't pick up any new injuries on Wednesday night in Austin, however it does sound like Cristian Roldan has suffered a setback in his recovery and will not be available on Saturday.
- The Timbers have been missing three would-be starters to knee injuries for some time and they won't be back until next year. So, Portland will be without Erik Williamson, David Ayala, and Jaroslaw Niezgoda on Saturday.
Sounders (4-2-3-1): Frei; Nouhou, Ragen, Yeimar, A. Roldan; Joao Paulo, Atencio; Chu, Lodeiro, Rusnak; Morris
Timbers (4-3-3): Bingham; Bravo, Araujo, Zuparic, Eric Miller; Ferreira, D. Chara, Evander; Asprilla, Mora, Y. Chara
What you need to know
Sounders record (3rd in the West): 11-9-7, +5 GD
Timbers record (12th in the West): 7-11-8, -12 GD
Where: Lumen Field, Seattle, WA
Kickoff time: 7:39pm Pacific Time
Commentators (AppleTV): Max Bretos and Phil Neville