PORTLAND, Ore. -- Coming in to their Heineken Rivalry Week encounter on Sunday night (9:30 pm ET | FS1 — Full TV & streaming info) two points and one Western Conference playoff line separate the sixth-place Portland Timbers and seventh-place Seattle Sounders are in seventh.
That said, the Timbers insist there's not a chance the playoff implications could overshadow the rivalry these Cascadia Cup foes share.
“Any time you play Seattle it doesn’t matter what form you are in,” Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella said Wednesday. “It doesn’t matter [what happened in] recent games. You are going to get the best from both teams because it is very important to everybody. Nobody has an excuse not to get up for Seattle.”
The Timbers will hope the conventional wisdom that form matters not in derbies holds true. They enter the match after losing three straight in an eight day span, a small skid that followed a 15-match unbeaten run. Meanwhile, the Sounders come into this weekend as the hottest team in MLS, having won their last six.
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Sunday represents a chance for the Timbers to reset and to get back to the defensively sound style that has them conceding the fourth-fewest goals in the Western Conference, even after allowing seven in their last two games.
“Now we are heading to play this match which is against our rival, which I think comes at a perfect time,” said Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese. “It comes at a moment at which we need this game for us to play. We are ready. ... We analyzed what happened this week, we learned from it, and now we move forward.”
If anything, Attinella believes the fixture may have even more of an edge than normal.
“I think that it is getting toward the end of the season and every game is important,” he said, “but as you get closer to the playoff push the importance of games, especially rivalry games, seem to ramp up a little bit. They are making a push and we are in playoff position as well, so it comes at an important time of year for us to get a win.
“I think that is how it is a little bit different from the [rivalry matches earlier in the season], but at the same time it is still Seattle vs. Portland, which, no matter what time of year it is, is still a must win for both teams. Whether the playoffs are on the line or not it is still going to be pretty intense and it will be fun to play in.”