A Desperate Derby
Posted by: Matt Gaschk
Seattle will meet a reeling Timbers side that has won just once in their last seven matches across all competitions, while the Sounders are winless in their last six MLS matches.
Amidst all the fanfare of the Seattle-Portland derby on Sunday, the Sounders and Timbers will meet for the first time in the 2012 season at Jeld-Wen Field.
And while the lights of ESPN will shine brightly on the pitch and in the stands where the supporters from the two clubs will provide the soundtrack for the afternoon match, the play on the field will be what determines which side's supporters go home happy.
Seattle will meet a reeling Timbers side that has won just once in their last seven matches across all competitions, including a historic 1-0 loss to amateur side Cal FC in the US Open Cup. In that loss they became the first MLS team to lose to a US Adult Soccer Association team in the Open Cup.
The Sounders, meanwhile, are winless in their last six MLS matches, going 0-3-3 since their last win on May 5. In between, they have managed two wins in the US Open Cup, including a 5-0 win over Cal FC.
That desperation could add to the intrigue of the match on Sunday.
"When a team is hungry like Portland is right now because the season hasn't gone as well as I'm sure they would have hoped at this point and for us right now games aren't going as we would have hoped. I think it's two teams that are very eager to get a good result," Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said.
Knowing that Portland is as desirous of a victory on Sunday as Seattle heightens the necessity to be ready from the opening whistle.
"They're going to be on fire, so it's important that we don't take that lightly and prepare for their best and give it our best," defender Jeff Parke said.
Portland will not have the services of center back Hanyer Mosquera, suspended three games for punching the LA Galaxy's Jack McBean in their match last Sunday. That may weaken a Portland defense that has allowed 16 goals in 13 games (1.23 GAA).
On the offensive side, Kris Boyd paces the Timbers with four goals. The six-foot-one Scottish striker takes advantage of his opportunities when he gets them in the box and is a focal point for Seattle's defense.
"He gives them a big target up front. On free kicks and on crosses he's dangerous. You have to be aware of him at all times," Parke said. "He's a good scorer. He's shown that throughout his career. It's important that we get a body on him early."
Portland also added Danny Mwanga in a trade with the Philadelphia Union and former Sounder Mike Fucito in a swap with the Montreal Impact. While they both provide options to complement Boyd, Darlington Nagbe has been the club's second leading scorer out of the midfield with three goals.
"They're a team with quality players," Schmid said. "Kris Boyd is a quality goal-scorer. He's scored goals for a number of years in good leagues. He's finding his footing right now in our league, but he's been dangerous pretty consistently in games."
The Sounders will be without Alvaro Fernandez due to a red card suspension after he was sent off for a stoppage time tackle on Wednesday against Sporting Kansas City. They will have Jhon Kennedy Hurtado back from suspension, though.
Schmid will also be balancing a difficult schedule, as the Sounders are playing the US Open Cup quarterfinal against the San Jose Earthquakes on Tuesday at San Francisco's Kezar Stadium. It is also the third game in a stretch of seven games in 22 days that could extend to nine games in 30 days if they advance to the Open Cup semifinals.
Kickoff is set for 2 pm Pacific on ESPN, with the local radio broadcast in Seattle on 97.3 KIRO FM.