After missing the playoffs for the first time in franchise history last season, Seattle Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer talked about reclaiming the team's home-field edge.
For their first five matches at Lumen Field this season, it worked. The Sounders didn't allow a goal in going 4-0-1.
But with Cascadia Cup rival Portland coming to town Saturday afternoon, the Western Conference-leading Sounders (8-6-2, 26 points), have lost three of their past four at home, to Sporting Kansas City, Austin FC and the San Jose Earthquakes -- who are a combined 4-14-6 in away games.
So Portland's 1-5-2 road record won't mean much, especially considering the Timbers (4-7-4, 16 points) have won four consecutive games in the rivalry and are unbeaten in seven straight MLS matches in Seattle (5-0-2).
The Timbers defeated the Sounders 4-1 in Portland on April 15, scoring four goals in an 18-minute span late in the second half.
After that game, Schmetzer questioned whether it was still a rivalry because of Portland's recent dominance.
"It's not another loss," Schmetzer said. "It's against the Timbers."
While the Timbers haven't played since a 4-1 loss at Kansas City on Sunday, the Sounders were defeated 1-0 Wednesday at home by the Earthquakes.
"For me, the next game is the most important," Sounders midfielder Kelyn Rowe said. "And luckily for us, it's in three days and it's probably the biggest one of the year thus far, because it is Portland. It's a rivalry match. It's a match that we need to show at our home who we are."
The Timbers haven't had a problem getting up for Cascadia Cup matches this season, going a combined 2-1-0 against Seattle and Vancouver.
"We want to be winning," Timbers defender Zac McGraw said. "We just need to show up more, honestly, when it's not a rivalry game. We come to play when it's Seattle or Vancouver, but we only play them so many times a year. We need more wins than that. It's a mentality thing, I think. Just going into every week, we need to be training more intense, from a player standpoint."
Both teams will be without key players. Timbers midfielder Yimmi Chara (hamstring) will be sidelined, as will the Sounders' Jordan Morris (groin), who is tied for second in MLS with nine goals. Seattle defender Alex Roldan will miss the game due to yellow-card accumulation.
--Field Level Media