Cascadia Clash Preview: Seattle Sounders Versus Portland Timbers

Aug 24, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Dynamo and Seattle Sounders players walk onto the field with children prior to their game at BBVA Compass Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 24, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Dynamo and Seattle Sounders players walk onto the field with children prior to their game at BBVA Compass Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

The miracle Brian Schmetzer and the Seattle Sounders hope to pull of just became much more difficult

The Seattle Sounders are set to take on their Cascadia rivals this Sunday in Portland. This Western Conference match will take place in Portland. The Portland Timbers came off much worse for wear after their last meeting with the Seattle Sounders, losing 3-1. This historic rivalry is considered the best in MLS, and will certainly be entertaining.

must read: Player Ratings: Seattle Sounders v Portland Timbers

The Seattle Sounders are enjoying some much needed positive results, but may find that more difficult this coming weekend. In a statement released by the Sounders Front Office this afternoon, it appears that play-maker and top scorer Clint Dempsey will miss out on this clash due to heart issues. According to the statement, Dempsey is dealing with some sort of irregular heartbeat. The question will be whether or not the Seattle Sounders can field an attack worthy of a much needed 3 points.

Seattle Sounders Need Vital Three Points to Continue Unlikely Playoff Run

It seems that the current feel for Sounders fans right now is one of incredulity, as well as tempered hope. After an absolute dismal start to the 2016 season, the Sounders seemingly had no fight in them to gain any sort of traction moving forward. Some big changes occurred in the past few weeks that have rectified many of the issues on and off the field. Signing  Nicolás Lodeiro has been a huge boon for the struggling attack in Seattle. The departure of former head coach Sigi Schmid seems to have generated a resurgence of energy in the locker room as well. Brian Schmetzer, acting as interim head coach, has lead the Seattle Sounders to a 3-2-0 record in the past five matches.

Related Story: Brian Schmetzer: Interim Coach or Long Term Possibility?

The poor performances for Seattle overall this season have led to an unusual circumstance for the generally successful team. As the playoffs loom, they are in desperate need of points if they have any hope of securing a spot. Since the signing of Lodeiro, the attack has clearly woken up. They have looked energized and dangerous since Schmetzer has taken over.

In their previous match last Wednesday versus a strong-at-home Houston Dynamo side, Seattle fought tooth and nail for the 1-1 draw. Lodeiro yet again proved his worth by scoring in the final breath of the match. A goal that seemed to go in for Seattle, nearly giving them an advantage, was a no-call by the officials. It is clear that the Seattle Sounders have decided to dig themselves out of this hole. Without Clint Dempsey this Sunday against Portland, they will have to figure on some adjustments in their attack.

Not All Hope Is Lost

For the first time in 10 months, Seattle star defender Román Torres was on the bench and a potential option in last Wednesday’s clash against Houston. Seattle has survived defensively, utilizing Brad Evans as an impromptu center back. Evans, an all around solid player, shines more in the midfield. Having an phenomenal defender like Torres available might invigorate the defensive side versus Portland, much like Lodeiro did for the midfield. Somewhat overshadowed by the signing of Lodeiro, former Sounder Álvaro Fernández has continued to gel in midfield. Between the potential return of Torres, Lodeiro’s remarkable ability to be perfect, and let’s not forget the youngsters Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan, the Seattle Sounders side will not be denied come Sunday.

Ultimately, no one in the league can argue that Brian Schmetzer and the Seattle Sounders are on a

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red hot streak. This motivation can absolutely be used to destroy the Timbers. They have allowed 39 goals this season, and are only second to Vancouver Whitecaps (43 GA) in most goals allowed in the Western Conference. Seattle will of course look to exploit their poor defense. Jordan Morris has shown to be phenomenal at playing off the shoulder of the last defender, and knows he can depend on Lodeiro to release him with perfectly weighted passes. Morris might have missed some easy opportunities this season, but he also can score some great goals.

Related Story: Mentally Tough Sounders Earn Road Draw

One vital key is that Seattle’s defense absolutely cannot allow Portland attackers Diego Valeri or Fenando Adi to control the attack in the final third. Sounders veteran midfielder Ozzie Alonso, who generally plays like a man possessed, always manages to kick it up one more level against Portland. Look for the Ozzie and either Evans (assuming Torres gets the start) or Erik Friberg to drop back in defensive support. It will be Schmetzers most telling test yet, but I believe in this team, and predict a 2-0 victory for the Rave Green.