The Sounders have to beat rival Portland on Sunday to have any hope of retaining the Cascadia Cup — and even then it might not be enough.
All the possible permutations and potential tiebreakers in the Cascadia Cup can get a bit confusing. For the Sounders, though, the requirement Sunday couldn’t be any clearer: win.
The Sounders must beat rival Portland at a packed CenturyLink Field to have any hope of retaining the trophy. And even then, it might not be enough to win the fan-sponsored tournament.
The Timbers boast a 2-0-2 record in Cascadia Cup games, good enough for eight points. Seattle (1-1-3, six points) needs a win Sunday, then help from the Vancouver Whitecaps (0-2-3, three points), who can’t win the trophy but host the Timbers in the competition’s final game on Oct. 21.
Portland midfielder Darlington Nagbe called Sunday’s nationally televised clash “the biggest game of the year,” which makes sense from a Timbers perspective as they try to restore some semblance of pride amid a disappointing season.
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So, is the motivation the same for the Sounders, who have grander goals in mind?
“The Cascadia Cup is important to us, but we’re in the playoffs,” said coach Sigi Schmid. “We’ve got things to do down the line there, so it’s not like this is our do-or-die game, or all our eggs are in one basket, or ‘We’re going to risk a guy playing with a damaged knee trying to win this game today’ or something like that. The motivation is a little bit different for both teams.”
Portland is 1-0-1 against the Sounders this season, and by virtue of the Timbers’ 2-1 win on June 24, Seattle would need a two-goal win Sunday to earn the advantage in a goal-differential tiebreaker if both teams finish with 2-1-3 records in the competition.
That won’t affect late-game strategy, however, according to Schmid.
“The most important thing right now is to get the win,” he said, “because you can’t worry about the tiebreaker until you get the win. Winning 1-0 or 2-1 or 3-2 is more important than being up 1-0 and trying to get the second goal and (tying) 1-1.”
Three Sounders called up
Defender Adam Johansson and midfielder Mario Martinez have been called up by Sweden and Honduras, respectively, for upcoming World Cup qualifiers, while forward Eddie Johnson indicated on Twitter that he had been called up to the U.S. national team. “Thank you to the Seattle Sounders and my teammates family and friends for believing in me when everyone else didn’t. #igotthecallupguys,” Johnson posted Friday evening.
Johansson will leave after Sunday’s game. Martinez could join his national team earlier.
• Osvaldo Alonso is expected to be available Sunday after completing Friday’s practice without issue. The midfielder had been limited throughout the week with a slight muscle strain.
• Ex-Sounder Roger Levesque will be honored in a Golden Scarf ceremony before Sunday’s game. The fan favorite retired in July and was a prominent figure in the Portland rivalry for about a decade.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @joshuamayers