Sounders hope to overcome deficit, injuries vs Timbers
The Seattle Sounders gained an all-important road goal in the first leg of their MLS Western Conference semifinal series against the rival Portland Timbers.
But they might have lost a lot more in the 2-1 defeat.
Defender Chad Marshall and midfielder Cristian Roldan were both forced to exit Sunday’s match with first-half injuries.
Marshall, the only three-time MLS Defender of the Year and a finalist this season for another, underwent surgery Tuesday for a torn meniscus in his right knee and will – at the least – miss Thursday’s second leg at CenturyLink Field.
Roldan, who became the first Sounders player to start all 34 games and played in all but seven minutes in the regular season, is listed as day to day with a hip flexor injury. He limped to the sideline Sunday and Portland scored the go-ahead goal before the Sounders could substitute for him.
Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer called Roldan a game-time decision while meeting with the media Tuesday but then said, “We’ll miss him.”
Still, the Sounders have that away goal, the first tiebreaker should the teams finish the second leg even.
“We’re not out,” Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. “I won’t even call this a setback. A setback would be if we were down 3-0 and going home. That sucks. We’re in this. We got an away goal, we’re confident in our play at home and we believe we have a better team than them.”
Added defender Kelvin Leerdam: “Nobody was down. We scored a goal away. Everybody was positive. When you score an away goal, it counts double so I think everybody was very positive, even though we were 2-1 down.”
While the Sounders will scramble to make changes to their starting lineup, the Timbers will get back defender Larrys Mabiala, who was suspended for the first leg after receiving a red card in a 2-1 victory at FC Dallas in the elimination round.
Raul Ruidiaz gave the Sounders a 1-0 in the first leg with his 11th goal in 14 starts since joining the team at midseason, but Jeremy Ebobisse and Sebastian Blanco answered for the Timbers in the opening half-hour.
“It was important to win at home in front of our fans and get a slight advantage heading into Seattle, because everyone knows how difficult it is to get a result up there,” Ebobisse said. “That being said, we have a lot of experience playing up in Seattle. We’re going to go up there, and hopefully get out with a result.”
While the Cascadia Cup rivalry dates to 1975 in the old North American Soccer League, the Sounders are 10-10-6 all time against the Timbers in MLS regular season and postseason play, including 7-2-3 at home.