Major League Soccer

Sounders-Timbers Preview

While the Portland Timbers are off to a relatively strong start to their lengthy home stretch, the Seattle Sounders have yet to win in August.

The host Timbers aim to complete the 2019 double over their Cascadia rival, and keep the Sounders winless for a season-high fifth consecutive match on Friday night.

Portland (11-10-4) began its stretch of 10 consecutive league home games by scoring three goals each in wins over Vancouver and Chicago. However, the Timbers hit a wall in Sunday's 2-0 loss to Atlanta United FC in a rematch of last year's MLS Cup final.

"Disappointed about the result, but we knew it was going to be a difficult game," defender Jorge Villafana told the Timbers' official website.

"(Friday night) is going to be a very important one, where there's a good opportunity to climb on the table and it's against Seattle. It's going to be one of those matches that you want to play, so we'll be eager to play."

The 107th edition of Portland v Seattle comes after Portland won the first two season meetings with the Sounders, both 2-1, in MLS and U.S. Open Cup play. Portland's Brian Fernandez recorded two of his 10 goals in the league victory at Seattle on July 21, and also netted a brace in the U.S. Open Cup win back in June.

Though both teams are above the playoff line in the Western Conference, Seattle (11-8-7) is three points ahead of Portland in the table. However, the Sounders need a win to repeat as Cascadia Cup champs - or Portland will take it home.

The Sounders, however, are 0-2-2 this month, conceding 11 goals in the process. The frustration continued last weekend against the Los Angeles Galaxy when the visitors managed only a 2-2 draw even while up a man from the sixth minute on. Raul Ruidiaz put Seattle up 1-0 in the 42nd minute, however a Zlatan Ibrahimović brace followed. Seattle was fortunate to earn that point thanks to Jorgen Skjelvik's own goal to level the match on 82 minutes.

Perhaps the magnitude and intensity of a rivalry match will help spark the Sounders to a positive result. Seattle has never been swept in the regular-season league series with Portland.

"A good performance, good result always boosts you regardless o what time of year, whatever, (if) you're struggling a little and you need a win and a good performance," Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer told the official website of MLS. "You double down with it being your archrival, and a little bit of payback for what happened here at CenturyLink. Yeah, it'll be motivation.

"It's going to help us. It'll be added motivation for each one of the players in that locker room because it's Portland."

Ruidiaz leads Seattle with nine goals this season, and four in his last three games versus Portland.

Updated August 21, 2019

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