The Seattle Sounders head to Portland on Sunday to take on their bitter rivals in their first meeting of the 2021 Major League Soccer season. Here is everything you need to know:
WHEN AND WHERE: Kickoff is at 12 p.m. PT at Providence Park in Portland, Ore.
WHERE TO WATCH: The match will be televised on ABC.
WHERE TO LISTEN: The match will air on 950 KJR AM and El Rey 1360 AM.
2021 RECORDS AND STANDINGS (W-D-L): Seattle: 2-1-0 (7 points, 1st West), Portland: 1-0-2 (3 points, 12th West)
PREVIOUS MEETING: In a match at Lumen Field last October, the Timbers struck first blood when Andrés Flores scored in the 10th minute. The Sounders answered dramatically when Will Bruin scored an equalizer in the third minute of stoppage time to steal a point in a 1-1 draw.
SUPPORTERS' SHIELD LEAD: Seattle sits atop the Supporters’ Shield standings three weeks into the season. The club is tied with Eastern Conference leaders New England Revolution on seven points, but the Sounders hold the goal differential tiebreaker with a league-leading plus-seven.
DEFENSIVE PROWESS: Much has rightfully been made about how good the Sounders have looked offensively to start the season in their new 3-5-2 formation — Raúl Ruidíaz is second in MLS with four goals through three games — but maybe more impressive is how strong they’ve been on the defensive side of the ball. Seattle has yet to concede from open play and is one of only two teams (Orlando City SC) who has played three matches that has allowed one goal or fewer.
LODEIRO RETURNS: One of the most encouraging parts of the Sounders’ 3-0 win over the LA Galaxy last weekend was the return of captain Nicolás Lodeiro, who missed the first two weeks of the season with a left quad strain. He came on as a second half substitute and immediately helped Seattle dictate tempo. There’s a chance he may make his first start of the campaign on Sunday.
WINGBACK FEVER: Perhaps no two players are benefiting more from this new system than wingbacks Alex Roldan and Brad Smith, each of whom has dazzled in the final third. After not scoring a goal in nearly five years, Smith has two goals in consecutive games and an assist to boot. Roldan, meanwhile, led the team in touches in Week 2 and has evolved into one of the better crossers in the league.
THOU SHALT NOT PASS: With his second clean sheet in three matches to start the season, Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei moved into No. 4 all time on MLS’ career shutout chart. He’s now just three away from sole possession of third.
HEAVY ROTATION: The Sounders could see some heavy rotation from Gio Savarese’s Timbers next weekend. Portland has a crucial second leg at Mexico’s Club América midweek in the quarterfinals of Concacaf Champions League and is also in a stretch of playing five matches in 15 days.
OFFENSIVE SLUMP: Portland has scored just three goals in three matches to start MLS play and is still missing talented winger Sebastián Blanco, who tore his ACL last year. Forward Jeremy Ebobisse has had some injury struggles to start the season and has only played 15 MLS minutes, while Designated Player forward Jaroslaw Niezgoda is recovering from an ACL tear of his own.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Yimmi Chará, the younger brother of Diego, is one of the paciest players in the league and has been impressive since joining the club ahead of the 2020 season. If the Timbers are going to generate any legitimate chances this weekend, expect him to be involved in one way or another.