One of the great things about living in the Pacific Northwest is that we're spoiled with our soccer. Both Portland and Seattle (and Vancouver too, although they're technically in the southwest of Canada) have a 40+ year tradition of both good soccer and tremendous support, no matter at what level the teams are playing.
Now that both teams are MLS, the rivalry has taken on a whole new dimension - there aren't just regional bragging rights at stake, there's actual national prestige and trophies, and there's an extra edge to the rivalry because the nation is watching (at least the soccer-watcher part of the nation, anyway).
Seattle is very much the big brother in this rivalry - they've got the money, the ginormous stadium, and the success. They've never missed the playoffs in nine MLS seasons, and they have five US Open Cups. The Timbers have, in their six full MLS seasons, made the playoffs twice, but in the second of those two appearances, won MLS Cup the year prior to Seattle doing the same thing.
Both teams are struggling this season - the Timbers are 2-6-2 in all competitions in their last 10 games, which includes losses to two of the worst teams in the league, in the form of the Colorado Rapids and Minnesota United, in the last week. The Sounders gave up two points at the death on Wednesday, conceding an equalizer to Orlando on the last kick of the game, and currently sit in eighth place.
The thing about MLS, though, particularly this season, is that the league is so tight that almost nobody can be written off yet. A Sounders win in Portland on Sunday keeps them either in or in touch with the playoff places, depending on other results. Despite their dire form lately, a Portland win, if other results go their way, could see them level on points with Sporting KC, second only on goal difference.
So yeah, there's a lot besides local bragging rights to play for.
This could be an interesting game, though - kickoff was moved from 1PM to 7.30 because of an extreme heat wave hitting Portland this weekend. Sunday's high is forecast to be about 100 degrees, and while by kickoff the whole pitch will be in the shade, it will still be uncomfortably hot, and that will have an effect on the game at some level.
FieldTurf retains a ton of heat, and while the game will be in the shade, the turf itself will still be really hot after baking in the sun all day. Typically at the Providence Park turf level, which is somewhere close to 30 feet below street level, the temperatures are 20 or more degrees hotter than the ambient temperature.
Team News/Predicted Lineups
In addition to losing the game Wednesday, the Timbers lost both Sebastian Blanco and Roy Miller to suspension - Blanco for a straight red and Miller for yellow card accumulation. Liam Ridgewell is also out with a calf injury. Jake Gleeson should also reclaim the goalkeeper spot after Jeff Attinella didn't exactly cover himself in glory against MNU.
The Sounders, meanwhile, have no significant absences, but might want to think about a little rest for some of the guys who played on Wednesday.
Gleeson; Vytas, Olum, Okugo, Valentin; Chara, Guzman; Nagbe, Valeri, Asprilla; Adi
Frei; Jones, Marshall, Torres, Evans; Alonso, Roldan; Morris, Dempsey, Lodeiro; Bruin
Portland Timbers v. Seattle Sounders
Sunday, June 25, 2017