Published April 04, 2014
Portland, OR (SportsNetwork.com) - Major League Soccer's fiercest rivalry kicks off on Saturday as the Portland Timbers host Seattle Sounders FC at Providence Park in the first Cascadia Cup tilt of the season.
The two Pacific Northwest sides met in a pulsating two-legged Western Conference semifinal series last season with the Timbers earning a 5-3 aggregate victory, including a 3-2 second-leg win in Portland.
Portland has struggled to start the 2014 season, however, entering Saturday's clash winless through their first four matches with a pair of defeats and a pair of draw to sit in seventh place in the West.
The Timbers are coming off a 2-1 defeat against FC Dallas last weekend at Toyota Stadium. Portland fell behind on the stoke of halftime through a goal from Blas Perez.
But the visitors grabbed an equalizer in the 66th minute when Portland forward Maximiliano Urruti's pass for substitute Kalif Alhassan deflected off the foot of Dallas captain Matt Hedges, wrong footing goalkeeper Chris Seitz as it caromed into the net for the own goal.
FCD snagged a late winner, however, six minutes from time when the ball was sent back in following an FCD free kick, and Mauro Diaz shifted to his right and fired a low shot past Timbers goalkeeper Andrew Weber.
"It would be easy to get down and frustrated and start worrying, but we're not going to do that because we know we have a good team and we know what we're capable of," Timbers head coach Caleb Porter said. "It seems like I keep saying that, but at the end of the day, if we weren't playing well I'd be worried. But we're playing well."
Portland could also be shorthanded as Darlington Nagbe was forced off with an injury at halftime against FCD. Nagbe has appeared in 52 consecutive league matches for the Timbers.
Seattle, meanwhile, is coming off a shock 2-1 defeat at home to the upstart Columbus Crew at CenturyLink Field.
Seattle opened the scoring in the 23rd minute through Kenny Cooper, but Columbus equalized in the 58th minute when Dominic Oduro was dragged down in the penalty area and Federico Higuain converted the ensuing spot kick.
The Crew then scored the winner four minutes into stoppage time. From a short corner, Higuain found Justin Meram unmarked at the top of the penalty area and he curled home a stunning strike from the left side of the box high inside the far post.
"It's frustrating obviously. To get scored on in both the circumstances; the penalty kick, and then towards the end not being turned on and they get a quick corner kick right at the end," said striker Lamar Neagle. "It's very frustrating I think, especially after the first that we had. I feel like it was one of the better halves that we have put together as a team."