Timbers hope they've learned errors of their way
Two teams anxious to wash away the taste of bitter Wednesday results will meet at Providence Park on Sunday evening when the Sounders make their only 2017 MLS regular-season visit to Portland.
The Timbers enter the match — moved to 7:30 p.m. because of the hot weather — coming off two disappointing results on the road.
The Sounders come to Portland after a 1-1 Wednesday home draw with Orlando City in which the visitors scored the tying goal in the dying seconds of stoppage time.
Portland is 7-7-3 (24 points) and looking to continue good home form.
Seattle is 5-7-5 and started the weekend eighth in the Western Conference.
The Timbers will be without several key players, and expect to have Amobi Okugo and Lawrence Olum paired in central defense, with Liam Ridgewell injured and Roy Miller suspended because of caution accumulation.
Attacking midfielder Sebastian Blanco also is suspended because of his red card in Wednesday's loss at Minnesota United. Look for Dairon Asprilla to return to the starting lineup in Blanco's absence.
Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer says Blanco's absence is significant.
"It's certainly a loss. But it's MLS. That's why it's a long season and you need to have depth players," Schmetzer says.
While injuries and suspensions will stress the Timbers' lineup, the Sounders are healthy heading to Portland, with veteran midfielder Brad Evans expected to be available after being sidelined by a calf strain.
Seattle won the first MLS meeting of the season, 1-0 on May 27 at CenturyLink Field. The Sounders scored from an early corner kick, but the Timbers felt good about their play — especially during the first half, before midfielder David Guzman left with an injury.
Seattle also won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match with Portland, but neither club used first-choice players.
Schmetzer and Timbers coach Caleb Porter spoke positively about their team's play despite recent disappointing results.
In losing on the road to struggling teams at Colorado last Saturday and Minnesota on Wednesday, the Timbers paid for individual mistakes.
"You really find out what a player's makeup, his mental toughness, is like after making mistakes," Porter says. "We didn't play poorly in the games, but we made some very poor mistakes that cost us the games."
Porter does not want his players dwelling on those errors and says even with limited lineup choices he is confident his defenders will be up to the challenge against a Seattle attack featuring Clint Dempsey, Nicolas Lodeiro, Jordan Morris and Will Bruin.
Bruin has five goals as a role player up front, Dempsey has four goals, and Lodeiro has three goals and five assists.
Porter says the Timbers don't need to make any significant changes — other than eliminating individual defensive errors.
"We can't give up the early goal. We don't want to be stretched out in a game where we're chasing it versus Seattle," Porter says. "Because while you might be able to gamble and do that a bit versus Minnesota, you don't want to be doing that versus Seattle because more time and space for Dempsey (and) Lodeiro will mean a lot of problems."