SEATTLE, WASHINGTON (June 30, 2018) — Match number 100 didn’t go exactly as planned for Seattle Sounders FC.
Instead, the match went in favor of the Portland Timbers. Providence Park hosted the 100th meeting between the two rival clubs on May 13. Portland took the 1-0 victory off a late second-half goal from Sebastián Blanco.
Preview: Seattle Sounders Look for Revenge Against Cascadia Rivals Portland Timbers
Now, the two sides will suit up at CenturyLink Field.
While the match isn’t as momentous as a 100th-anniversary match, it’s still a high-intensity rivalry in Major League Soccer. It’s hailed as one of the best rivalries in the league.
Seattle will want to put on a show for their newest designated player signing. On Friday, the club announced the signing of Raúl Ruidíaz, a Peruvian international fresh off the FIFA World Cup.
Ruidíaz will be presented to the crowd on Saturday. What better time to be introduced to a new club than a rivalry match?
Seattle Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers
2018 MLS Regular Season
June 30, 2018 – 1:30 p.m. PT/4:30 p.m. ET
What to Watch for
Portland’s Stellar Attack
The Timbers have one of the best front lines in MLS.
Their attacking threat includes Diego Valeri, Fanendo Adi, Diego Chara and Sebastián Blanco. Seattle’s defense will have their hands full. Kim Kee-Hee is expected to start on the back line still with Roman Torres returning from the World Cup with injury.
Kim has proven that he can retain the spot, featuring alongside Chad Marshall and having decent, consistent matches.
However, Seattle has shifted their defense a tad bit due to injuries. Last weekend, with Kelvin Leerdam out with injury, Cristian Roldan took over the right back spot, playing alongside Kim.
The experiment had its learning curves — the two hardly speak the same language, so Roldan is learning how Marshall feels about communication — but Seattle managed to squeak out a point.
Combined, all four attackers for Portland have scored 13 goals. Valeri leads the way with six goals and three assists, while Blanco isn’t far behind with five goals and three assists.
— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) June 30, 2018
The Injury Report
Seattle Sounders FC
In a turn of events, two goalkeepers have been listed as questionable for Seattle with concussions. Stefan Frei, Seattle’s starting goalkeeper and arguably best player this season, is one of them.
The other is Calle Brown, Frei’s back up.
“Everyday they do another checkbox,” Head Coach Brian Schmetzer said about Frei. “They have a very specific protocol. If he completes the protocol he’ll play, if he doesn’t he won’t play. He’ll have to go through his testing today and tomorrow. But he has to pass… Soccer is a contact sport.”
“We don’t want anything bad to happen to Stef, it’s a prudent course of action.”
Schmetzer noted that the concussion was suffered against the Chicago Fire. During the waning minutes of the match, Frei collided with forward Alan Gordon.
Schmetzer said that Frei is “over it” in terms of being angry about the play.
“Stefan is a pretty nice guy,” Schmetzer said. “We’re probably not over it. I don’t think there was any malice intended, but it was reckless in my opinion. That’s just part of the game. Alan Gordon has had a good career. That’s his kind of M.O. He was going for the ball, he wasn’t trying to injure Stef.”
Should either goalkeeper be unable to perform, the reins would be handed over to Bryan Meredith. The 28-year-old goalkeeper featured for Seattle during their U.S. Open Cup match loss to Sacramento Republic FC.
Meredith made seven saves in the match.
Seattle also has defender Kelvin Leerdam (right hamstring strain), forward Felix Chenkam (right hamstring strain) and midfielder Harry Shipp (right ankle sprain) listed as questionable.
Listed as out are forward Jordan Morris and midfielder Handwalla Bwana.
Roy Miller is working hard to return after being sidelined for the entire MLS season.
Miller injured his left Achilles tendon back in November 2017. After months of rehab and surgery, Miller has been upgraded from “out” to “questionable.”
The boost would be huge for Portland’s defense. Miller is not just a veteran of MLS — he formerly featured for the New York Red Bulls from 2010-15 — but he was a veteran for the Costa Rican men’s national team.
An injury kept him from the World Cup, but Saturday could be a triumphant return.
Also listed as questionable are defender Liam Ridgewell (right quad injury), goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh (left thigh injury), Fanendo Adi (left thigh injury) and Sebastián Blanco (right thigh injury).
"We have to find a way to get the three points."
— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) June 29, 2018
Last Meeting: Portland 1, Seattle 0
Touched on earlier, the last time these two sides met was just last month.
The Portland Timbers got the best of Seattle in the 100th meeting. However, Seattle holds a 50-36-14 record over Portland. The tables could be turned in this match and Seattle is in desperate need of three points.
Right now, the Sounders sit in 10th place with 12 points. Seattle is barely above the Colorado Rapids (12 points) and San Jose Earthquakes (11 points).
Meanwhile, Portland sits in fifth place with 23 points.
Prediction: Seattle 2, Portland 1
While it’s uncertain if Frei will be available until the lineup is released, Seattle isn’t in trouble with Meredith potentially starting in goal. Seattle would even be alright if Calle Brown started in goal.
Both are competent goalkeepers. Schmetzer wouldn’t have brought them on board — or kept them on the roster he inherited from Sigi Schmid — if he didn’t think that.
Seattle also has one of their best players, Clint Dempsey, with some confidence under his belt. Dempsey scored his first goal of the season against the Fire last weekend. Now, Dempsey needs to build off that performance.
Seattle will have its hands full in this match. But, maybe the presence of Raúl Ruidíaz could bring a spark to wake up a team that needs points.
— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) June 30, 2018