What to watch for - August 23 2020

Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders resume rivalry in first showdown of 2020

While several clubs played their natural rivals at the MLS is Back Tournament last month, the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders weren't among them. 

They'll fix that on Sunday night, renewing one of the most passionate rivalries in these parts of the world before a national TV audience at Providence Park (10 pm ET | FS1 in the US, TSN in Canada). Here's what to watch for:

What difference does a year make?

Believe it or not, Sunday's meeting comes exactly a year after these sides last met, and quite a lot has changed since then.

For starters, both teams have won trophies, with the Sounders winning their second MLS Cup last November and the Timbers winning the MLS is Back Tournament title.

The fixture will also be the first for Portland's European imports, Jaroslaw Niezgoda and Dario Zuparic, as well as Seattle's South American signings Joao Paulo and Yeimar Gomez Andrade.

Form or freshness?

Not only do the Timbers come into the tournament as MLS is Back Tournament winners, they also have the benefit of having only 12 days between matches.

It will be a first match in four weeks for the Sounders, but that rust may be worth it in exchange for the time to recoup Joao Paulo, Gomez Andrade and others from injury.

There in spirit

Like most matches this season, Sunday's fixture will be played without supporters in attendance at Providence Park. That will certainly bring a weird feeling to the encounter, and it remains to be seen whether the home fans will have the chance to express their support with banners or signs.

At least Timber Joey will be in attendance for the traditional log slices after every Portland goal, according to Timbers.com.

Sound at the back?

While they are healthier than in Orlando, the Sounders will be without center back Xavier Arreaga for the encounter, with manager Brian Schmetzer revealing the Ecuadorian is dealing with a quadriceps injury.

Arreaga had played in each of the previous league matches this season. Expect Shane O'Neill to pair with Gomez Andrade in the Sounders' back four.

Away days

It's hard to know exactly what to expect for a home-field advantage in the era of closed stadiums, but it hasn't meant much recently anyway in this fixture.

The away team has won the last four regular season meetings between these clubs, with the Sounders taking the most recent meeting 2-1 at Providence Park a year ago.


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