The Portland Timbers host the Seattle Sounders tonight at 7pm PT in what will serve as the first match for both teams since the conclusion of the MLS is Back Tournament Final on August 11th. That league-wide midseason competition, of course, was won by Portland.
This will be the first match for either side in their home stadiums since March, before the COVID-19 pandemic forced a shutdown. The MLSiBT was contained to a bubble in Orlando, but these regular season matches shift back to all- or mostly-empty home stadiums.
The scheduled fixtures for this portion of the restarted season pit teams from similar geographic areas together in an effort to minimize the possible spread of COVID from market-to-market.
While it may be the quietest Cascadia rivalry match since the first 33 minutes of last year’s clash in Portland, it will certainly won’t lack in importance. Both teams will be eager to renew this vicious rivalry, which has had its longest break in action since the two clubs were in different leagues.
It’s also worth mentioning that this match will not count towards the official Cascadia Cup standings. As per thecascadiacup.com, “2020 matches not played in front of supporters….won’t count towards Cascadia Cup standings.”
The Hate is Still Real
While FC Dallas made headlines for allowing a limited number of fans in the stands, there will be none in attendance at Providence Park this evening. Ask any fan on either side if what happens on the pitch will mean anything less, though, and you’ll be treated to a solid “no.”
As always, there is no love lost between these clubs. As Sounders Head Coach Brian Schmetzer recently reminded us, the hate runs much deeper than between the fans.
Brian Schmetzer just now on KJR: “I have to be honest with you, (blank) the Timbers.”
— Dave “Softy” Mahler (@Softykjr) August 13, 2020
Expectations and Predictions
The Timbers are the favorites to win this match, but not by much as one might expect. Despite winning the MLSiBT, the Timbers are only at +130 to win, +245 to draw, and +190 to lose to the Sounders; according to Bovada.
The road teams have actually had the better of this series in the past few years. The last team that earned a home victory in this rivalry was the Timbers in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals back in 2018.
Overall, I still expect Portland to have the better of Seattle in this one. The Timbers showed they were the more thoroughly organized side, especially defensively. Portland’s attack has been more potent, as well, and I think they’re the better all-around squad coming into tonight’s match.
Prediction: 3-1 Timbers, with a goal from Jeremy Ebobisse in there somewhere.
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