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Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders | 2018 Conference Semifinal Preview

Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders FC
Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs — Conference Semifinals, First Leg
Providence Park — Portland
November 4 — 5:30 pm ET

For the first time in five years, Cascadia rivals Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders will meet in the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs in what should be a thrilling two-legged series.

The Timbers booked their ticket into the Western Conference Semifinals by upsetting FC Dallas, 2-1, at Toyota Stadium on Wednesday night, while the Sounders earned a bye into the Conference Semifinals after finishing second in the West by winning 12 of their final 14 games.

The Timbers won two of the three regular season meetings this season, but the Sounders picked up a 1-0 victory at Providence Park in the final matchup this year on Aug. 23 courtesy of a Julio Cascante own goal. It was Seattle’s first win in the Rose City since 2014.

The Timbers won by the same scoreline at Providence Park on May 13 — the 100th all-time meeting between the rivals — with Sebastian Blanco coming up with the late winner. A month later, Portland claimed a 3-2 win at CenturyLink Field with Larrys Mabiala scoring a brace, including the 74th-minute winner.

That first-ever MLS Cup Playoff meeting — in the 2013 Western Conference Semifinals — was won by the Timbers, 5-3, on aggregate.

Portland Timbers

Despite playing nearly the final half hour down a man after Mabiala was sent off for DOGSO, the Timbers rode the strength of a Diego Valeri brace to defeat FC Dallas, 2-1, in the Knockout Round Wednesday in Frisco.

After dodging an early bullet when Reto Ziegler’s headed goal was called back for offside, the Timbers went ahead in the 23rd minute on a well-struck free kick by Valeri. The Argentine struck for his second goal following a defensive miscue between Ziegler and Jesse Gonzalez in the 71st minute. Matt Hedges gave Dallas some late hope with a stoppage-time goal, but the Timbers saw the rest of the game out to advance to the Western Conference Semifinals.

“I am very proud of every player, not only the ones that were on the field, but everybody around the team. Great energy. In a difficult situation they were able to sacrifice to make sure we got the victory against a very good Dallas team,” Giovanni Savarese said. “They posed a lot of difficult things on us, a difficult first half, but we balanced out. We found a very good goal. I think Valeri was magic today and then when we were with 10 men the discipline was very important.” 

  • Suspended: D - Larrys Mabiala
  • Suspended after next caution: D - Liam Ridgewell, M - Diego Chara
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: D - Roy Miller (right thigh injury), GK - Jake Gleeson (bilateral tibial stress fracture surgery); QUESTIONABLE: GK - Kendall McIntosh (head injury)

Projected Starting XI
(4-2-3-1, right to left)
GK: Jeff Attinella — Zarek Valentin, Julio Cascante, Liam Ridgewell, Jorge Villafaña — Diego Chara, David Guzman —Andy Polo, Diego Valeri, Sebastian Blanco — Jeremy Ebobisse

  • Notes: Mabiala will be suspended for the first leg of this tie. Portland are winless without Mabiala this year (3L) - conceding 2 goals a game vs 1.4 when he plays. … The Timbers are undefeated at home since Aug 29 4W-1D). Their 2.6 points per game at home in that span is third highest in the league.

Seattle Sounders

When the Sounders fell to Portland at home on May 13, they fell 11 points adrift of the playoff line in the West. But Seattle followed that defeat by going unbeaten in their next 12 games — including nine games in a row.

After consecutive defeats to the Philadelphia Union and the LA Galaxy, the Sounders closed out the season with five consecutive wins, including 2-1 over the San Jose Earthquakes on Decision Day presented by AT&T to move up to second in the Western Conference.

“It was obviously an emotional victory for them and they came out here and they know its the playoffs and now it’s money time,” Brian Schmetzer said of his team. “I think they’re focused.”

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: None
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: F - Jordan Morris (torn ACL), F - Felix Chenkam (herniated disc), D - Brad Smith (right hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: M - Harry Shipp (right hamstring strain)

Projected Starting XI
(4-2-3-1, right to left)
GK: Stefan Frei — Kelvin Leerdam, Kim Kee-hee, Chad Marshall, Nouhou Tolo — Osvaldo Alonso, Gustav Svensson— Cristian Roldan, Nico Lodeiro, Victor Rodriguez — Raul Ruidiaz

  • Notes: Raul Ruidíaz had a brace in Seattle’s final regular season games. In the 14 games in which Ruidíaz featured this year Seattle averaged 2.1 goals and won 85.7% of the games. They averaged 1.1 GPG and won 30% without him. … Since July 1, the Sounders lead MLS in wins (15), points (47), goals conceded (16) and are third in goals scored (39). They are 7W-1L-2D in road games in that time. Only three teams had more away wins in all of 2018.

All-Time Series (Regular Season)


Referee: Ted Unkel
Assistant Referees: Joe Fletcher, Kathryn Nesbitt
4th Official: Drew Fischer
VAR: Allen Chapman

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Season Goal Leaders

Season Stats

Portland TimbersSeattle Sounders FC
35Games Played34
49Goals Conceded37
174Shots on Target135
377Fouls committed357
382Fouls suffered411

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