Here's our preview story, dealing primarily on the Sounders need to avoid surrendering an early goal ... or falling behind at all. Below, some basis:
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (15-10-6; 51 POINTS)AT PORTLAND TIMBERS (12-5-14; 50 POINTS)6 p.m., Jeld-Wen Field, Portland.TV: ESPN. RADIO: 97.3 FM.HEAD TO HEAD: The Sounders lead the MLS series 3-1-3 overall and have gone 1-1-1 in Portland. The teams played to a 1-1 draw in March and Seattle took a 1-0 win in August, both at CenturyLink Field. The Sounders lead the all-time series across all leagues, 42-28-11.NOTES: With a win, Seattle would clinch a playoff spot and the 2013 Cascadia Cup. Any other result extends the Sounders’ playoff quest and gives the Cup to Vancouver. The Timbers cannot clinch a playoff spot this weekend, and they have been eliminated from Cup contention. … The teams rank second and third in the MLS Western Conference. … Seattle is on a four-game winless streak (0-2-2) and has lost its last two matches by a combined 9-2. Portland is on a five-game unbeaten streak (3-0-2). The Timbers also have a 13-game unbeaten streak at home (10-0-3). … Darlington Nagbe leads Portland with nine goals, while Diego Valeri leads with 12 assists. … Seattle will be without goals leader Eddie Johnson, who suffered a groin injury while away with the U.S. national team. Brad Evans is away on duty with the national team, while Portland will be without Rodney Wallace (Costa Rica) and Ryan Johnson and Alvas Powell (Jamaica). … Seattle coach Sigi Schmid indicated the availability of Clint Dempsey (hamstring), Obafemi Martins (groin) and Leo Gonzalez (hip) are game-time decisions. He also did not say whether Michael Gspurning or Marcus Hahnemann would start in goal. … The Sounders will wear their “Super Cyan” kits to avoid conflict with the Timbers’ home green. … The referee is Hilario Grajeda.QUOTABLE: “It gives me goose bumps right now, and I’m excited to hear our fans when we walk in there. It’s going to be a great place to be on Sunday.” – Seattle defender Patrick Ianni on the rivalry.NEXT: The Sounders visit FC Dallas at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.