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This is a massive game between two sides on 33 points, even though Seattle Sounders FC have a game in hand compared to the Portland Timbers. Both sides have been in poor form recently and are currently not in the playoff spots. Both will feel like a win here might turn their fortunes around for the rest of the season.
The two have faced each other on plenty of occasions and the head-to-head is almost as tight as their place on the Eastern Conference table. The Timbers have won 19, 10 games have been draws and 21 games have been won by the Sounders. The Timbers have won in the last two matches between these sides and should have the edge at home.
The Portland Timbers won the match quite comfortably in the last meeting between these two sides last month. The match ended 3-0 with Jaroslaw Niezgoda opening the scoring in the 24th minute before a late flurry thanks to goals from Santiago Moreno and Dairon Aspirilla cemented the victory in the 82nd and 85th minute respectively.
The Sounders had what many would call a lot of sterile possession with 57% of the ball but only took seven shots on the day with one on target, whereas the Timbers had eight of their 10 shots on target. The Timbers were worthy winners on the day.
The Portland Timbers will be heading into this match after suffering one of their worst defeats of the season, a 4-1 loss to a rejuvenated Sporting Kansas on the weekend. The Timbers couldn’t handle Kansas City’s new signing, William Agada, who scored a brace. The match was lost in the first half thanks to a brilliant showing from Agada and the home side, who were leading 3-0 within 42 minutes. Sebastian Blanco scored a consolation goal in the 90th minute for the Timbers on a humbling day.
The Portland Timbers were on a 10-game unbeaten run not too long ago but this never looked sustainable with so many draws. In fact, no team has had more draws in the Western Conference than Portland Timbers’ 12, with the next teams in line managing nine. The sense of convenience that the unbeaten run gave the Timbers has now been shattered. The loss and the manner of it might just have come at the right time as they’re now a bit wounded and will be aware that they can’t drop too many points if they want to make it to the playoffs.
The four goals they let past Sporting Kansas City isn’t the only reason their defense has looked shaky all season. They’ve conceded 44 goals in this campaign and the underlying figures don’t suggest that there’s been misfortune in this either. Those 44 goals have been conceded from an expected goal against value of 40.2. A loss like the one on the weekend was coming and now that they’ve suffered it, the task at hand for the next game and those right after it has to be defensive organization. They’ve got to earn the right to play and that comes from some tight defense.
Forward Diego Gutierrez has undergone foot surgery and has been out since April. He’s expected to return by the end of next month. Felipe Mora was out earlier this month and is undergoing knee surgery. He will only be back next summer.
The Seattle Sounders must’ve thought they got all three points on the weekend in a thrilling 3-3 match between themselves and Los Angeles Galaxy but a penalty from Dejan Joveljic two minutes into added time forced a draw. The Sounders, who became the first MLS team to win the CONCACAF Champions League this season, are no longer a certainty for the playoffs.
Los Angeles Galaxy scored the first two goals in this match in the first half before the Sounders led a remarkable comeback in the second half. Despite their best efforts, it just wasn’t enough to get them a win
There’s been no reliable goalscorer within the forward line for the Sounders and this issue will continue to plague them for the rest of the season. Jordan Morris is currently their top scorer with seven goals and his expected goals value isn’t too high either at 8.9 but what this suggests is that even if he got more chances, he’d probably underperform on his expected goals.
Raul Ruidiaz has scored six goals from 13 matches and Nicolas Lodeiro has scored five. Everyone in the side could be a bit more clinical in front of the goal but there’s clearly something not right up front and further investment might be the only way to solve the issue.
Unlike the Portland Timbers, the Sounders have at least got a positive goal difference and this is mostly because their defense remains organized. They’ve conceded 34 goals from an expected goal against a value of 35.9, which is pretty healthy and should give them a fighting chance of making it to the playoffs. Only six teams have conceded fewer goals and they’ll be banking on not being as open as they were in their match against Los Angeles Galaxy against the Portland Timbers.
The central midfielder, Joao Pualo, got a cruciate ligament rupture in early May and has been out for a while. Ober Vargas, the 17-year-old midfielder, has had a back injury since June. Cristian Roldan is the latest to join the treatment table after confirming a groin injury this week. He will have to undergo surgery and should be out for a while.
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|Teams||Portland Timbers vs Seattle Sounders FC|
|Time||Friday, August 26 at 10 pm ET onwards|
|How to watch||ESPN+, ESPN Deportes|
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Varun is a web journalist who has been writing on sports for 13 years. He took a shine for the MLS during the 2021 season and has been following it and writing about it since, alongside his work involving the English Premier League, La Liga, and the Serie A. He is deeply interested in soccer analytics and strategy and has aspirations to move into coaching at some point. Email: [email protected]More info on Varun Shetty
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