MLS preview: Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers
Seattle Sounders are scheduled to host Portland Timbers in a top of the table clash in the MLS Western Conference.
Sounders have finished in the top-two in each of the previous three seasons and they are currently in a good position to repeat the feat.
The 2019 MLS Cup holders have accumulated 31 points from 17 outings and they are ahead of Timbers on goal difference with a game in hand.
Sounders go into Thursday’s encounter on the back of a goalless draw against San Jose on the road last weekend.
Timbers were likewise unable to pick up a victory in the previous gameweek. They settled for a 1-1 draw against LA Galaxy.
The teams have faced each other in 36 competitive matches and they have won 15 games apiece. They have already met on three occasions during the current 2020 season.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the teams have played in a regional geographic bubble. Sounders secured a comfortable 3-0 triumph in Portland in the first game after the one-off MLS is Back tournament in August.
In early September, Timbers returned the favour with a 2-1 win in Seattle. In the same month, they faced for a third occasion in Portland which Timber won by a 1-0 scoreline.
Hence, Timbers have had the edge over Sounders of late, but both teams will head into the midweek encounter at CenturyLink Field on the back of two winless games.
Goalkeeper Trey Muse (concussion) and left-back Joevin Jones (sprained ankle) are out of contention for Sounders. Meanwhile, they will also be without Raul Ruidiaz, Gustav Svensson and Xavier Arreaga, who are going through quarantine protocols after returning from international duty.
They won’t be available for selection until October 27 when Sounders face Vancouver Whitecaps. Ruidiaz, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Peru duty, will be a huge miss for Sounders. He has been in top form upfront this year with nine goals and two assists from 16 outings.
Timbers, on the other hand, are expected to be without five players in Andy Polo, Sebastian Blanco, Andres Flores, Julio Cascante, Dairon Asprilla and Blake Bodily through injuries. Asprilla (arthroscopy) and Blanco (cruciate ligament rupture) are long-term absentees.
Seattle Sounders (4-3-3): Stefan Frei; Brad Smith, Shane O’Neill, Yeimar Gomez, Kelvin Leerdam; Cristian Roldan, Jordy Delem; Jordan Morris, Nicolas Lodeiro, Miguel Ibarra; Will Bruin
Portland Timbers (4-2-3-1): Steve Clark; Jorge Villafana, Dario Zuparic, Bill Tuiloma, Marco Farfan; Erik Williamson, Diego Chara; Diego Valeri, Marvin Loria, Yimmy Chara; Niezgoda
Player to watch out for:
Diego Valeri is approaching the final phase of his career, but he continues to excel for Timbers from the number 10 position. The 34-year-old is regarded as a legend of the club, having contributed 95 goals and 74 assists from 267 outings. The Argentine has been in good form this term with eight goals and six assists from 21 outings. He possesses an impressive record against Sounders with 10 goals and seven assists from 28 meetings.
Timbers have beaten Sounders in the previous two encounters and they can be fancied to outwit them once again. The absence of regulars Ruidiaz, Arreaga and Svensson are definitely big blows for the hosts.
Seattle Sounders 1-2 Portland Timbers
Stats from Transfermarkt.com and Worldfootball.net