One person who knows a thing or two about the Sounders-Timbers rivalry is Steve Zakuani. Now a broadcast analyst with the Sounders, Zakuani spent the last season of his career playing for the Timbers and has seen the contest from both sides of the coin. He gives you his thoughts on the first meeting of the year between the two Cascadia clubs in the latest Off-Camera Observations.
On the teams' feelings before the match:
It’s huge in terms of what it means to the two franchises. It goes without saying that both teams will be up for it. It’s the kind of game where your form goes out the window and your record goes out the window. All that matters is what happens in the 90 minutes.
On the recent form of both sides:
I think the Sounders have been a bit better this season. The Timbers got a huge win in New York, but before that, they’d been having a tough time. I think with both teams coming off a win, it’s good for the game. The confidence on both sides is high. But as I said, for this kind of game it doesn’t really matter how you’ve done, because it’s a different mentality altogether. So the Sounders have been in a bit better form and will be confident as the home team, but that all can change with one goal.
On heading into a rivalry match:
You always talk about the previous games, and if one team has won three or four of them in a row, then it will definitely be on your mind. But one moment can change everything. The Timbers had beat the Sounders in the playoffs the previous season, so they went into last year with the upper hand. And then I think the 4-4 tie switched the momentum in the Sounders’ favor because they came from behind on the road. And then for the games after that, the momentum had totally shifted to Seattle.
So for Portland, I think it’s important to come here and not lose. They’re going to try to win, but if they can get the tie, that’s very good for them because it stops the Sounders’ momentum. For Seattle, a win on Sunday would be four straight wins against the Timbers. That would be huge.