Sounders look for rivalry win vs. Timbers to turn around flagging form

When Seattle Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan thinks of his team's Cascadia Cup rivalry with the Portland Timbers, there's one word he says comes to mind, and it's not a complicated one.

"If you put it in one word, it's hatred," Roldan said after Seattle's training session at Starfire Sports Complex on Thursday. "It's simple as that. You don't want to lose to this team, especially away from home. That's what they call their fortress, they're very good there. It would be nice to get a win and get a quality game that will turn around our season."

The Sounders will get their opportunity to do that when the sides meet in a Heineken Rivalry Week clash at Providence Park on Friday (10 pm ET | ESPN in US; DAZN in Canada), and it's fair to say the odds are stacked against them. After a hot start to the season, Seattle have leveled off and now find themselves in a dogfight for a Western Conference playoff spot ahead of the stretch run.

Portland are one of the teams they're fighting with, but are on a much better run of recent form, and have a schedule backloaded with almost entirely home matches. Throw in Seattle's recent defensive woes and Portland's always-formidable and dynamic counterattack, especially in the friendly confines in Portland, and taking points from Friday's matchup is going to be a difficult task.

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Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer is aware of all that, but said earlier this week he thinks the derby could actually be coming around at the perfect time, as a win at Providence Park could provide even more of a psychological boost than an ordinary road victory considering the pride and bragging rights on the line.

The last matchup between the sides -- a 2-1 victory for the Timbers at CenturyLink Field on July 21 -- carried as much emotion as ever. Frustrations boiled over after the final whistle, with Sounders defender Roman Torres coming after Portland goalkeeper Steve Clark and setting off a mass confrontation that started on the field and continued into the tunnel to the locker rooms.

Asked on Thursday about any potential carryover from those extracurriculars into Friday's match, Schmetzer said he's mentioned it to his players, but doesn't expect it to be a concern.

"I don't think Gio [Savarese] coaches his team and I don't coach my team to go out and have an alley fight," Schmetzer said. "We want to actually have a soccer game that plays out. What happened last time was something that we'll mention. But it's not something that we are going to sit there and say, 'Ok, we're going to go down there and starting punching them in the face.' We want to play hard, we want to play fair, we always want to play the same way."

It was certainly a diplomatic answer, but asked a followup as to his personal feelings on the rivalry itself, Schmetzer offered up a sentiment similar to Roldan's:

"After my last answer," he said, "I can answer that one by saying I hope we freakin' kill them."

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