Clint Dempsey

Sounders look to put tough stretch of games behind them with three points at Portland

Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers

MLS Regular Season
Sunday, August 24; 2 pm PT; Providence Park
TV/Radio: ESPN2; KIRO Radio 97.3 FM; ESPN Deportes Radio, 1490 AM (Spanish)

It’s never easy to predict the outcome of derby matches. The intensity on both sides can cause unusual happenings – both positive and negative for a given team.

However, Sounders FC does know what to expect when it heads to Providence Park on Sunday for the third and final regular season meeting of 2014 between Seattle and the Portland Timbers.

“A fight. Like it is every game,” Sounders FC defender DeAndre Yedlin said when asked what he expects from the match against the Timbers. “With them, no matter where you are in the standings, it’s always a hard game. We’re expecting a battle.”

Currently, Seattle is atop the Western Conference, even with Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas with 42 points. Portland, meanwhile, is on the outside of the playoff picture and sixth in the West. Those records hardly tell the whole story, though, as Seattle is 1-3-1 since beating Portland 2-0 on July 13 and the Timbers are 3-1-1 since that match.

Both teams are, however, finishing off difficult stretches in their schedules. For Seattle, it’s the last of five games in 15 days that included the U.S. Open Cup semifinal. Portland, on the other hand, will be playing a third match in eight days that included trips New England to face the Revs and Guyana for CONCACAF Champions League matchup.

All of those factors go out the window when it comes time for the Cascadia Cup derby.

“It’s a rivalry game. You throw everything out the window,” Seattle midfielder Brad Evans. “When it comes to fatigue and everything, it’s do or die when it comes to this game. I think we’ll be up for it. It’s another game, but it’s a big one. It’s a rivalry game, so you can’t say enough about what this means to the players, what this means to the fans and what it means to the club. We look to do it again down there.”

Earlier this season, Seattle came from two goals down to earn a draw at Providence Park. That result provided an edge for Sounders FC as it steamrolled Portland 2-0 at CenturyLink Field last month. Those matches not only gave Seattle a mental advantage over its bitter rivals, but also helped provide a blueprint for success against a team that finished the 2013 season with the best record in the Western Conference.

“There’s going to be battles out wide and battles in the middle of midfield,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “We’ve got to look at things we’ve done and had success with against them and try and make sure we do more of that.”

Seattle has a chance to take a firmer grasp of first place in the Western Conference with a victory and can also move to the top of the standings in the Cascadia Cup. Winning the local derby, according to Yedlin, might be an even bigger motivation for the Sounders in a crucial portion of the schedule as the regular season nears its end.

“I think no matter what, the rivalry is always going to be first. We owe it to the fans and I know the fans love these games,” Yedlin said. “Obviously you want to win. The rivalry in this case is very important and it’s a motivator to get higher in the standings. We’re ready for it. We’re excited for it. Winning this game can put this bad stretch to rest.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 2 pm PT with live national television coverage on ESPN2.