One thing is for sure, you can expect 67,000 things in the stands...
Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers
August 25, 2013, 7 pm PT; CenturyLink Field
TV/Radio: ESPN2; KIRO 97.3 FM
There won’t be an empty seat at CenturyLink Field on Sunday night as Sounders FC hosts the Portland Timbers in the latest match in the Cascadia Cup derby. There will also be a national television audience on ESPN2.
Here are four things that all those in attendance and those watching from home can expect when the decades-old rivals collide.
History Means Everything … And Nothing
The players on both sides know all about the history of the Seattle-Portland rivalry. Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid jokes that with each new player, he sits them down with 12-year Seattle veteran Zach Scott and within 15 minutes he has them primed for the Cascadia Cup derby matches. It’s a history that goes all the way back to 1975 in the North American Soccer League and while the history of the two clubs has immense meaning to the clubs, recent history is nearly meaningless.
“In these games, as we’ve said before, you can throw the records out the window,” midfielder Brad Evans said. “It’s backs against the wall for each team. It’s the Cascadia Cup on the line. And it’s three points that we desperately need and we want.”
When Sounders FC brought in U.S. National Team captain Clint Dempsey and introduced him in front of a crowd of 39,360 screaming Seattle fans before Sounders FC trounced FC Dallas on August 3, Dempsey said he felt like he was in a movie.
Adding another 27,000 more fans to that picture and with Dempsey likely to make his home debut against Portland, the stage is even more set for the dynamic attacking threat. The 30-year-old Texas native will be looking to impress the home crowd and repay it for the support it has offered already in his first three weeks with the club. Having his home debut in a derby match just makes him even more excited.
“It’s big. The fans are really going to be up for it. I’m used to the derbies and used to the rivalries and understand the importance of it,” he grinned. “Hopefully I can open my account this weekend against them.”
Valeri the Magician
Just as Mauro Rosales came to MLS in 2011 and paved the way for Seattle’s success with his playmaking abilities, so has his countryman Diego Valeri for the Timbers this year. His five goals and 11 assists make him a strong candidate for MLS Newcomer of the Year. After notching one goal and one assist on Wednesday night in a 3-3 draw with Real Salt Lake at JELD-WEN Field, he now has one goal and five assists in his last four matches.
With Will Johnson’s availability in question because of a shoulder injury and Diego Chara serving a suspension for yellow card accumulation, more pressure will be put on Valeri to control the midfield, but he has shown throughout the season that he can answer the call.
It Will Be Loud
Sunday night’s match will mark the 80th consecutive sellout in an MLS match for Sounders FC. Somehow, it will be more special than any other, though. It has the potential to be the highest attended soccer match in the history of soccer in Seattle and with the national television audience, fans from both sides will have a chance to make their voices heard.
There is expected to be 1,500 Portland fans on hand in their allotted section and while they will be dwarfed in numbers by the 65,000 others supporting Seattle, inevitably the chants and songs from the Timbers Army will make their way into the sound on the broadcast. One thing Sounders FC has shown a propensity to accomplishing though is to send those visiting fans home empty-handed. In four previous matches when attendance has exceeded 55,000, Seattle has four victories and has outscored the opposition 11-1.
“It’s a good problem to have,” Schmid said of the sellout crowd. “It’s just a fantastic feeling to have.”