Already a huge occasion, this Cascadia Cup meeting has extra spice in the form of Clint Dempsey's home debut.There will be a raucous atmosphere as Seattle hosts Portland in one of the biggest regular-season Major League Soccer matches in recent memory.
A sold-out CenturyLink Field will welcome club record signing Clint Dempsey in his first home appearance, only adding to the occasion of one of the fiercest rivalries in American Soccer. The United States men's national team captain signed with the Sounders on Aug. 3 and has made a pair of appearances in away matches, but this weekend's Cascadia Cup clash represents his playing bow in front of the Emerald City faithful.
The Sounders could use him in good form. Two points out of fifth (albeit with two games in hand over current occupant Valcouver), Seattle is in danger of not making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. With Steve Zakuani (athletic pubalgia) out and the Sounders potentially also missing leading scorer Obafemi Martins (L ankle sprain), Dempsey will have to find his feet quickly, although the presence of close friend and fellow U.S. national team member Eddie Johnson should help.
That pair and fellow Seattle forward Lamar Neagle will have their work cut out for them against the Western Conference's best back line. Portland has conceded just 25 goals and despite missing out on taking first place in MLS when Real Salt Lake scored a stoppage-time equalizer on Wednesday, has placed itself among the league's elite sides with its possession-oriented soccer.
The Timbers will have to contend with a number of holes in their roster, however. Diego Chara is suspended after picking up a red card, and injuries have deprived PDX of Futty Danso (L foot injury), Bright Dike (ACL surgery), David Horst (R tibia plateau surgery), Brent Richards (L ACL surgery) Mikael Silvestre (ACL surgery) and Dylan Tucker-Gangnes (concussion) for sure, while Jack Jewsbury (ankle), Will Johnson (scapular contusion) and Frederic Piquionne (ankle) are questionable.
This is the second of three scheduled matches between these two sides this year. On March 16, Eddie Johnson gave the Sounders a 1-0 home lead before Rodney Wallace stole a point in stoppage time.