The result against Dallas may have been disappointing but that should not hide the fact the performance was one that was deserving of all three points. Dallas shaded possession but the Sounders created the better chances and should have had the game won before conceding a late leveler.
Seattle built on the performance with a superb 3-0 win over Tigres in midweek with the returning Cristian Roldan giving the rave green another dimension in attack with his energetic runs from midfield. The Sounders again had less of the ball against their Liga MX opposition but looked more threatening than their opponents in the final third. The added bonus has been Nicolás Lodeiro making an appearance off the bench in both games, and his return gives the Sounders the creative tempo setter that gives the attack another dimension.
Next up is the ultimate test as Seattle take on Portland in the latest edition of the greatest rivalry in MLS.
Portland: What to Expect:
The Timbers come into this weekend’s clash on the back of a hard-fought victory over RSL. It was a win that highlighted some of the issues for the Timbers this season, as they held just 35 percent possession to continue a theme of having less of the ball than the opposition. Portland also conceded twice against Real Salt Lake, meaning they have now conceded 29 goals this season, which is the most goals conceded by any team in the Western Conference. Only Toronto have a higher Expected Goals Against number in MLS play this season, demonstrating it has been their defensive lapses that has hampered the Timbers ability to pick up more points.
Higher up the pitch, the Timbers have traded Jeremy Ebobisse to freshen an attack that has recently acquired Santiago Moreno from America De Cali to compliment the goalscoring form of Felipe Mora.
Both Portland and Seattle rely heavily on the creativity and leadership of their respective number 10’s, but neither Sebastian Blanco nor Lodeiro have actually started an MLS game this season. Both came off the bench in their team’s last match, with Blanco going 45 minutes against RSL and Lodeiro scoring a screamer to seal the Sounders’ win against Tigres. I expect both to play a bigger role this weekend and both will be key to their team’s ability to create in the final third.
Stat to Watch:
When these teams meet, the side who has held more possession hasn’t always translated to a positive result. Portland had 55 percent of the ball in the first meeting this season, but it was the Sounders who came away with all three points. Don’t be surprised to see the victorious team on Sunday have much less of the ball over the 90 minutes.