The Portland Timbers will face the Seattle Sounders for the third time in exactly one month, looking to take the advantage in what has been a back-and-forth exchange this year.
Seattle took the first three goals and three points in Providence Park on August 23rd. Portland gave their all for 70 minutes or so before Raúl Ruidiaz & Co. buried the Timbers with three quick goals late in the match.
Portland struck back in CenturyLink Field two Wednesdays ago with an emotional 2-1 win after losing star midfielder Sebastián Blanco to an ACL tear. A goal and an assist from Eryk Williamson secured the W and extended this matchup’s away win streak to six.
Let me repeat that: In the last six MLS regular season matches between the Timbers and Sounders, the away team has won. Not drawn or dropped any points—won.
With that being said, I have another stat to bring up: At what point are we going to start talking about Portland’s non-shutout streak?
The Portland Timbers have not recorded a clean sheet since March 8th.#RCTID
— Timbers LIVE (@doublepostpod) September 23, 2020
Yes, there have been three different goalkeepers in the lineup since then; Yes, last Saturday’s 6-1 performance against San Jose was a massive sigh of relief; Yes, the back line (and rest of the XI, for that matter) has been shuffled more than a Hoyle deck in a crowded casino; Yes, Seattle have not been shutout since the MLS is Back Tournament…
But those are excuses, and the Portland Timbers need to stop giving themselves excuses. They need to start being more reliable defensively.
This leads me into what I want to see from the Timbers tonight:
A clean sheet
Jarosław Niezgoda getting on the end of chances
Yimmi Chará being a creative force
Niezgoda and Yimmi are both guys that had slow starts to their DP careers in Portland, but they both scored and played well last week. I think they’re sleeping giants, not just on this roster but in all of MLS.
You don’t hear this sentence very often on the world of soccer/football, but I’d be completely satisfied with a goalless draw tonight. I know—it’s Seattle—and believe me, I hate them as much as you do. But a goalless draw against one of the hottest teams in the league would be a monumental achievement for Portland.
For Portland, Chris Duvall (right lower leg) and Larrys Mabiala (right thigh) are listed as questionable for tonight.
However, in Monday’s press conference, Giovanni Savarese indicated that Duvall was still recovering but that Mabiala would be good to go. Predicting Timbers lineups is an exercise in sorcery at this point, but it’s safe to assume that Portland’s first-choice center back (Mabiala) will start along with Pablo Bonilla at right back.
Jeff Attinella (low back spasms), Tomas Conechny (right shoulder), and Bill Tuiloma (left thigh) are also listed as questionable for Portland.
Midfielder Daniel Leyva is out with a foot fracture for Seattle.
Expectations and Predictions
Bovada’s odds for this match give Seattle the edge at +125, but Portland is not far behind at +180 (draw at +280). This isn’t a toss-up, but it’s fairly close.
Although I said I’d be satisfied with 0-0, I don’t think either team will be able to keep a clean sheet realistically.
This match will come down to whichever team finishes its chances better. This season, I can confidently say that we got shooters.
I’m predicting a thrilling 3-2 win for Portland, breaking the streak and sending all of us good guys into a state of elation. At least one goal from Jarek and at least one assist from Yimmi, because why not?
Thanks for reading, and follow @doublepostpod on Twitter for live updates and discussion throughout the match. Go Timbers!