By MIKE DONOVAN
PORTLAND, Ore.- As the Portland Timbers players made their way around the field after their 3-3 draw with Real Salt Lake Wednesday night, the Timbers Army serenaded the club with neither cheers nor boos, but with a simple message.
And despite a bitter end to the game, the matchup with their Northern rivals was already on the minds of head coach Caleb Porter and his team.
“You know, in the end, we’re disappointed, but we don’t have time to be too disappointed. We got a big game on Sunday,” Porter said following the RSL match. “Mostly, we need to put it behind us quickly and get to work on Seattle.”
Sunday’s game will mark the home debut of Clint Dempsey and will take place in front of a national television audience as well as 66,000-plus fans at Century Link Field. The Timbers come into the match on a three-game unbeaten run, but they will need to get rid of the bitter taste from Wednesday.
“It will be great to kind of move on quickly. I think we need to obviously take tonight and tomorrow to get over this one and we just need to get back to work Friday,” defender Michael Harrington said.
For the second time this season, the Timbers will travel to Seattle after a negative home result. In March, the club rebounded from a loss to the Montreal Impact by getting a late draw against the Sounders. The Timbers took the point when Rodney Wallace headed home a Andrew Jean-Baptiste pass and sent the traveling Timbers supporters into a frenzy.
Wallace is the only MLS Timber who has scored multiple goals against the Sounders and his mind was already thinking about the Sounders in the locker room on Wednesday night.
“We have to bounce back and focus on this game in Seattle, which is very important,” Wallace said. “It’s the way the schedule works and for a team like us right now, it is a good opportunity for us to get more points going forward and closer to the playoffs.”
The Timbers were also dealt a blow when Diego Chara picked up a yellow card in the first half against Real Salt Lake, which means he will miss the Seattle match due to yellow card accumulation. With Jack Jewsbury and Will Johnson currently sidelined with injuries, Portland’s center midfield might feature a tandem of Ben Zemanski and Rodney Wallace. If Wallace heads to center mid, Wednesday night goalscorer Kalif Alhassan will likely take his spot on the wing.
No matter who sees the field against, Ryan Johnson has no doubt the Timbers will be able to get past Wednesday night.
“We’re definitely going to be ready. That’s just a game that you can always be ready for and we’re definitely going to be ready for it after things went tonight,” Johnson said.
A victory by either side would propel them to the top of the Cascadia Cup standings ahead of the Vancouver Whitecaps, who are the current leaders. Portland has drawn all three of its Cascadia matches this season, while Seattle split its first two games with Vancouver.