Portland is the defending champion of the Cascadia Cup, but the Sounders hold an all-time goal edge of 9-6 in the five-game series, 4-1 at CenturyLink Field.
MATCH: Portland Timbers (0-1-1, 1 point, 7th, MLS West) at Seattle Sounders FC (0-1-0, 0 points, T8, MLS West). TYPE: MLS (Cascadia Cup). WHEN: Saturday, 5 p.m., CenturyLink Field. MEETING: 80th (Sounders lead 41-28-10 across all competitions; lead 2-1-2 in MLS play). TV: NBCSN. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH: KOMO2 (Comcast Ch. 114) and La Gran D 99.3 FM.
After a stunning 3-2 aggregate win over Tigres UANL that enabled the Sounders to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals opposite Santos Laguna, Seattle’s focus shifts back to MLS play with the opening match of the Cascadia Cup. The Sounders and Timbers are seeking their first MLS victories and the Sounders have yet to score a league goal.
The Sounders early Friday signed Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins, who arrived in Seattle Friday night. The team’s third designated player is eligible for the Seattle’s 18-man lineup Saturday, and he might see some action even though he hasn’t trained with the team and traveled from Europe Friday.
“He knows the importance of the game. I know (sporting director Chris Henderson) has been on the phone with him and talked to him about the importance of the game, and he wants to be part of that,” said head coach Sigi Schmid. “His loyalty is to the Seattle Sounders and I think it’s a good example that he’s showing by the effort that he’s making in getting here.”
Seattle lost its MLS opener 1-0 to the Montreal Impact, while the Timbers, the defending Cascadia Cup champions, have a 3-3 draw with New York and a 2-1 loss to Montreal on their ledger.
Saturday’s match is the first of six Cascadia Cup contests for the Sounders against Portland and Vancouver, including four at CenturyLink Field. The Sounders finished second last year with a 2-1-3 record as the Timbers took the trophy. Seattle last won the Cup in 2011, the first year it was contested at the MLS level.
In the five Cascadia Cup matches played between Seattle and Portland since 2011, when the Timbers entered MLS, Seattle has scored nine goals, Portland six. The Sounders hold a 4-1 goal advantage at CenturyLink.
Seven of Seattle’s nine goals in the series have come in the final 45 minutes, and the Sounders have scored three goals in two of the five meetings. Eddie Johnson leads all active players with two goals.
In the league opener against Montreal, Sounders coach Sigi Schmid pulled a surprise by starting O’Dea High School and Sounders academy product DeAndre Yedlin at right back. Yedlin, who scored his first goal for the franchise in the 3-1 win over Tigres, is listed as a probable starter against the Timbers.
“I thought he played well,” said Schmid. “I thought for a young man making his debut at home there could have been a lot of pressure. He could have not handled that well, but I thought he handled it well and had a good game.”
The Sounders can expect a shooting barrage from the Timbers. Portland has averaged 20 shots per game in its first two matches. In their last match, the Timbers peppered Montreal with 19 shots, but came away with just one goal.
“It’s not a coincidence that in two games straight we’ve shot more than 20-something times on goal,” said Portland forward Ryan Johnson. “We’re doing the right things, they (shots) are going to fall, we’ve just got to be a little bit sharper around the goal when it comes to those final passes. As time goes on, we’ll be fine, I’m not worried at all.”
Portland features dynamic midfielders Darlington Nagbe and Diego Valeri. The pair are responsible for both Timbers goals. The 22-year-old Nagbe is in his third MLS season while Valeri joined the Timbers after playing nine years in Argentina, Portugal and Spain.
Former Salt Lake midfielder Will Johnson joined the team in the offseason and has assumed captain’s duty, playing alongside Colombian Diego Chara.
The club also brought in Johnson from Toronto FC (scored seven goals last year), Mikael Silvestre from Manchester United, and the 2010 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Donovan Ricketts, scheduled to start Saturday night.
SOUNDERS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Michael Gspurning. Defenders – DeAndre Yedlin, Djimi Traore, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez. Midfielders — Mario Martinez, Brad Evans, Steve Zakuani, Osvaldo Alonso. Forwards — Mauro Rosales, Eddie Johnson.
TIMBERS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Donovan Ricketts. Defenders — Michael Harrington, Mikael Silvestre, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Ryan Miller. Midfielders — Will Johnson, Diego Chara, Diego Valeri, Kalif Alhassan, Darlington Nagbe. Forward — Ryan Johnson.
INJURIES (Sounders & Timbers): None.
SERIES: Dates to May 2, 1975, when Portland played its inaugural match in the old North American Soccer League. In all leagues, the Sounders and Timbers have met 79 times. Sounders are 41-28-10. Since Portland joined MLS, the Sounders lead 2-1-2. The clubs met most recently Oct. 7, 2012 at CenturyLink Field with the Sounders winning 3-0 on an own goal and tallies by Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero in front of 66,452. In the five MLS meetings, Seattle has outscored Portland 9 goals to 6.
SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES
SOUNDERS MLS LEADERS
|Starts||11 players tied with one start each|
|Goals||No goals yet in MLS competition|
|Assists||No assists yet in MLS competition|
|Shots||Johnson 6, Martinez 3, Zakuani 2|
|Shots On Goal||Johnson, Martinez, Scott, all 1|
|Fouls Caused||Evans 4, Gonzalez 2, 4 players with 1|
|Fouls Suffered||Johnson, Martinez, Rosales, all 2|
|Offsides||Evans, Johnson, Martinez, Zakuani, all 1|
|Corner Kicks||Rosales 6, Martinez 3|
TIMBERS NOTES: Have allowed five goals in their two matches, tied with New York and Chicago for the most in the league . . . Timbers are playing under new head coach Caleb Porter, coaching at the pro level for the first time.
COMING UP: The Sounders travel to San Jose March 23 for their first meeting of the season with the Earthquakes, returning to CenturyLink Field March 30 to face Real Salt Lake.
Seattle Sounders FC 2013 Schedule / Results
(0-1-0, 0 points, MLS; 1-0-0 CCL; 0-0-0 U.S. Open Cup)
|3/6||*at Tigres||7:00||Fox Soccer||L||1-0||0-0-0|
|3/23||^at San Jose||7:30||KING/KONG||—||—||—|
|5/26||^at LA Galaxy||8:00||ESPN2||—||—||—|
|7/13||^at San Jose||7:30||KING/KONG||—||—||—|
|9/21||^at LA Galaxy||7:30||NBCSN||—||—||—|
|10/19||^at FC Dallas||1:00||NBCSN||—||—||—|
*=CONCACAF; ^=Major League Soccer