For the first time in five months, the Portland Timbers are playing on the pitch at home in Portland, Oregon.
After a championship run down in Orlando, Florida, the MLS is Back Tournament champs will begin a six-game, regional format stretch tonight against a familiar foe.
On the other side of the pitch stands the 2019 MLS Champion Seattle Sounders, and if you know anything about this rivalry in the MLS, you know these matches are anything but civil.
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Portland brings an eight-match unbeaten streak into Sunday’s game.
It’s going to be a very interesting game to watch. I think we are going to see the best version of their team. -- Timbers defender Larrys Mabiala
The Sounders will be without starting defender Xavier Arreaga due to a quadriceps injury, manager Brian Schmetzer told the media on Friday.
According to reports, the Ecuadorian who arrived in Seattle a summer ago had started every match this year the Sounders, who advanced out of its group during the recently concluded MLS is Back Tournament before losing to LAFC in the round of 16.
Replacing Arreaga will be Shane O’Neill paired next to Yeimar Gomez Andrade at the center of Seattle’s back four. O’Neill has two starts in four total games this regular season. The two will get their first taste of this Timbers vs. Sounders heated PNW rivalry on Sunday.
As a reminder, these games will be played without the Timbers Army and Portland faithful in the stands at Providence Park.
“This is a very big part of the game, not having the fans behind you,” Mabiala said. “This is the part we’re going to miss most. We’ll mostly feel the importance when it’s getting hard in some part of the game.”
The Timbers Army still made sure that the team felt the support ahead of this heated rivalry.
Catch the game tonight at 7 PM (PT) on Fox Sports 1.