The season ends tonight for either the Sounders or Timbers. Here’s our preview story from today’s News Tribune. And below, some basics:
NO. 4 SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
AT NO. 1 PORTLAND TIMBERS
8:23 p.m., Jeld-Wen Field, Portland.
TV: NBCSN. RADIO: 97.3 FM.
REGULAR SEASON LEADERS: For Portland: G 10, Diego Valeri; A 13, Valeri; S 72, Valeri; SOG 26, Valeri; GAA 0.97, Donovan Ricketts. For Seattle: G 9, Eddie Johnson; A 8, Mauro Rosales; S 61, Lamar Neagle; SOG 27, Johnson; GAA 1.27, Michael Gspurning.
HEAD TO HEAD: Seattle leads the MLS regular-season series 3-2-3 and has gone 1-1-1 in Portland. The Timbers lead 2-1-1 this season, including their win in the first leg of this series.
NOTES: This is the resolution match of a two-game, aggregate-score Western Conference semifinal series. Portland holds a one-goal advantage following its 2-1 win Saturday at Seattle. If the aggregate score is even at the end of regulation, the series will go to 30 minutes of added time. If the score remains even, the series will be decided by penalty kicks. Road goals have no special status. … Portland won the Western Conference regular-season title with a 14-5-15 record. Seattle was fourth at 15-12-7. … The Timbers are unbeaten (11-0-4) over their last 15 home matches. The Sounders are 5-10-2 away from home. … Portland is trying to become the first MLS team to advance in its playoff debut since Real Salt Lake in 2008. Seattle is trying to become the fourth MLS team to advance after losing the first leg at home. … Portland led MLS with a plus-21 goal differential. The Timbers were second best in goals allowed and third in goals scored. … Portland also led the league with 15 shutouts. … Sounders No. 1 goalkeeper Michael Gspurning is eligible to return after missing the series opener due to red-card suspension. However, midfielder Lamar Neagle is ineligible after receiving two yellow cards over Seattle’s first two postseason games. … Obafemi Martins (groin) and Leo Gonzalez (groin) traveled, but they remain questionable. … The game-time forecast calls for 55 degrees and a chance of rain. … The game is sold out. … The referee is Hilario Grajeda.
QUOTABLE: “We know we need a goal. I don’t care if we get that goal in the first five minutes or the last five. But at the end of the day we need to win the game. … Our guys know that we want to have a clean sheet in the back and we want to get a goal.” – Seattle coach Sigi Schmid on making up the aggregate-score deficit.
NEXT: The season ends for the loser. The winner advances to the Western Conference final, meeting the winner of the series between No. 2 Real Salt Lake and No. 3 Los Angeles. That series begins at 6 p.m. Sunday at the home of the lower-seeded club.
THREE KEYS FOR SEATTLE: Play to zero: Portland led MLS with 15 regular-season shutouts, so getting even the one needed goal will be a challenge for the Sounders. They can’t afford to raise the bar by surrendering any.
Convert chances: The Sounders took 20 shots in the series opening game, but managed only one goal. Coach Sigi Schmid often stresses the important of chances, but in a loser-out match all that matters is the result.
Play like jobs depend on it: Because, of course, they do. Players such as Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins were brought in to make Sounders FC the best team in the league. If they end up only second-best in the Northwest, no one’s job is safe.