Portland, OR – Seattle Sounders FC can clinch a playoff berth and the Portland Timbers can win the Cascadia Cup to salvage an otherwise poor season when the rivals battle Saturday at Jeld-Wen Field.
Seattle and Portland are separated by 20 points in the Western Conference, as Sounders FC is just six points off the top and the Timbers are last.
At least at home, Portland (7-14-6) has been a competitive team this season as it proved in June with a 2-1 win against Seattle at Jeld-Wen Field. Kris Boyd and David Horst scored for the Timbers in the win.
With one meeting between the clubs still left for early October in Seattle, it will be a crucial meeting for Portland as it tries to seal the Cascadia trophy contested by the two clubs and Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Portland has accumulated seven points from its first three Cascadia clashes as it tries to earn the lone trophy it still has a chance to win. Since winning on the road has been impossible, it needs full points at home.
The Timbers are 0-10-3 on the road this season and four of their next five are on the road, including at Seattle on Oct. 7 and Vancouver on Oct. 21. Portland can not afford to waste its chance at home.
"The support that (the fans) given us throughout this whole thing has been great, and it's a way for us to pay them back in a small way," said Portland midfielder Jack Jewsbury. "It means a lot to them, we know that, but it means a little bit more to the group in the locker room, as well, to bring home some sort of trophy."
Seattle (13-6-8) has been impressive in its last nine matches with six wins, a loss and two draws, and defeated Chivas USA last weekend, 2-1, on a late goal from Eddie Johnson.
A win against Portland would not only secure a return to the playoffs, but it would keep Seattle in contention for the Cascadia Cup and within reach of the San Jose Earthquakes.
Coach Sigi Schmid has the Sounders playing as well as any team in MLS, and it would not be a surprise if Seattle escaped Portland with three points. Seattle could still climb atop the West, and Schmid has that in sight.
"We're looking forward to going down in front of the Timbers Army and putting on a result. We want to put ourselves in a position to win a Cascadia Cup, but also want to put ourselves in a position to solidify second," Schmid said.
"We want three more points. We want to put ourselves in a position where if San Jose falters, we're right there and they know it, and we still have a six- point game against San Jose coming up in two weeks, as well."