Three Key Match-Ups: vs Portland Timbers

Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers

MLS Regular Season
Sunday, July 13; 7 pm PT; CenturyLink Field
TV/Radio: ESPN2; KIRO Radio 97.3 FM; ESPN Deportes Radio, 1490 AM (Spanish)

Sounders FC meets the Portland Timbers on Sunday for the second time in five days after Seattle ousted the Timbers in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals with a 3-1 extra time win on Wednesday.

That 120-minute match gave a little window into some of the potential clashes we will see on the field at CenturyLink Field on Sunday. Here are the three key matchups to watch.

Chad Marshall vs. Fanendo Adi

Portland’s newly-minted Designated Player has been a force thus far in his brief MLS career with four goals and two assists in eight matches. He played all 120 minutes for Portland on Wednesday in the U.S. Open Cup at Starfire, and the defensive tandem of Marshall and Zach Scott got quickly acquainted with the 23-year-old Nigerian. They engaged in a physical game, limiting Adi to just one shot on goal in his four attempts. In Marshall, Seattle has the aerial antidote to the 6-foot-4 Adi, who has shown to be a capable player with his back to goal, but was limited in the air when marked by Marshall.

Clint Dempsey vs. Danny O’Rourke

Portland’s options are limited at center back with the absences of Pa Modou Kah and Norberto Paparatto, along with the late arrival of newly-signed DP defender Liam Ridgewell. In addition, defensive midfield dynamo Diego Chara will be out while serving a suspension for yellow card accumulation. That leaves O’Rourke and Rauwshan McKenzie to deal with Dempsey and Obafemi Martins. Portland has allowed just three goals in the three matches O’Rourke has started, but Dempsey will be a motivated individual in his first match back after helping the U.S. National Team reach the Round of 16 at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He had eight goals and three assists in just nine matches before leaving for international duty, including a hat trick against the Timbers at Providence Park. Can he pick up where he left off to start the second half of the season?

Darlington Nagbe vs. DeAndre Yedlin

The two former University of Akron standouts will go toe-to-toe on Seattle’s defensive right side in what will be a stiff test for Yedlin in his return from a breakthrough performance at the World Cup. Last time out, Portland Head Coach Caleb Porter often deployed Nagbe into 1v1 and 2v1 situations against Yedlin. That limited Yedlin’s ability to get forward in that contest, but with his confidence reaching new levels after the World Cup, the shoe may fall on the other foot this time around. Nagbe scored his first competitive goal of the season on Wednesday in the U.S. Open Cup - either a sign that he has started to find a rhythm or a commentary on his slow production thus far.