Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers
August 25, 2013, 7 pm PT; CenturyLink Field
TV/Radio: ESPN2; KIRO 97.3 FM
Having success in a season can build a player to star status. However, success in derby matches can elevate those same players to heroes.
“It makes legends out of guys,” Sounders FC’s Lamar Neagle said.
In the last five years, players like Zach Scott, Roger Levesque and Fredy Montero have all been well-liked by the Sounders FC fanbase. But their success in matches against the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps FC has lifted them in stature in the Seattle community.
This Sunday, players on both sides of the Columbia River will have the chance to cement their names in club lore as Sounders FC hosts the Timbers at CenturyLink Field.
Seattle is looking to continue its streak of home success, where it's 6-0-3 in the last nine matches. However, at 10-8-4, Sounders FC sits seventh in the West and is looking for that signature win to propel the team into the playoffs.
“Those are victories during the season that can really turn a season around,” Clint Dempsey said. “Hopefully we get the right result on the weekend and that gives us that push to get on a good run of form and make sure that we get in the playoffs.”
The two teams already met once in Seattle on March 16, with Rodney Wallace netting a 90th minute equalizer to negate an early Eddie Johnson goal and end the match in a 1-1 draw. Now, five months later, the Timbers are third in the West at 9-3-12.
“They’re confident. At the beginning of the year, they weren’t quite confident yet in what they could do. They’ve gotten some good results that have built their team’s confidence,” Schmid said. “I’m sure they look at their loss column and say they rarely get beaten and that’s something they’re very proud of. That confidence always helps a team.”
Portland has been relatively consistent in their starting lineups throughout the season, with slight variations popping up here and there. However, a recent string of injuries left them thin in the midfield over the last two matches outside of playmaker Diego Valeri.
Captain Will Johnson and his most capable replacement Jack Jewsbury were both out of Wednesday’s match with Real Salt Lake. Their availability and the suspension to Diego Chara for yellow card accumulation leaves Head Coach Caleb Porter with even fewer options. If Johnson and Jewsbury can’t start, that will leave Porter with Ben Zemanski and Kalif Alhassan as the only players who have seen significant playing time in the midfield. Wallace also has experience in the midfield, but has proven a strong component to Porter’s forward trio with five goals and five assists.
How Porter navigates those lineup and formation decisions will likely go a long ways in determining the flow of the match on Sunday.
“We will miss his presence,” Porter said of Chara. “To get results in this league, you have to have a deep team. We’ve not only built a strong core group of starting players, but we’ve built a strong core group of depth pieces.”