TUKWILA, Wash. – It’s hard to overstate just how badly the Seattle Sounders could use a positive result in their Heineken Rivalry Week clash against the Portland Timbers at Providence Park on Friday (10 pm ET | ESPN, TVAS, MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada).
The Sounders are limping into the matchup winless across their last four games. Perhaps most disappointing, they drew 2-2 at the LA Galaxy despite playing up a man for 84 minutes, salvaging a point thanks to a fortuitous own goal that deflected off a defender and rolled almost 30 yards into the net.
But in rivalry games, recent form tends not to matter. Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said this makes for an ideal opportunity for his team to flip the script, even after Portland’s 2-1 victory at CenturyLink Field on July 21.
“A good performance, good result always boosts you regardless of what time of year, whatever, [if] you’re struggling a little and you need a win and a good performance,” Schmetzer said after training on Tuesday. “You double down with it being your archrival and a little bit of payback for what happened up here at CenturyLink. Yeah, it’ll be added motivation.
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“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.”
That last match in Seattle was a good example of the extra weight these derbies tend to carry, a chippy and heated affair throughout and even beyond the final whistle.
This time around, Sounders midfielder Gustav Svensson hopes his team can channel that added intensity into a positive result rather than postgame theatrics.
“Those things happen unfortunately sometimes, there’s a lot of anger out there,” Svensson said. “I don’t think it’s anything we think about, I don’t think it’s anything Portland thinks about. The only thing I can say is that I hope that we do that in the game and not after the game. I hope that we put out everything and more in the game and not after the game.”
More generally, a Seattle defense that has conceded 11 goals in four games will have a formidable test against Portland. Enough so that the Sounders came out to training later than usual on Tuesday after a lengthy, defensively focused film session.
“We have to talk about it even if it’s something you don’t want to address,” Svensson said. “We have to talk about the confidence in both the attack, but also in the defense. The one-on-ones in the defense, we have to make sure we are confident that we are good enough to step up when we have to.
“Confidence comes often with wins. We just have to make sure we start getting three points and the confidence will come back. We talked a lot about going back to finding the small things that make you confident again so we get ourselves back on the right track."