Even though the Seattle Sounders have clinched their fourth consecutive playoff of berth, they're still in a precarious spot in the MLS Western Conference rankings.
The Sounders' loss to the San Jose Earthquakes on Sept. 22, destroyed their hopes of finishing the 2012 MLS season with the top spot in the west, and their scoreless draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps has forced them down to the fourth position in the Western Conference table.
Fortunately for the Sounders, they're only three points away from second place Real Salt Lake in the standings, and they'll have a chance to move a little closer when they face the Portland Timers on Oct. 7.
The Sounders are 0-1-1 against the Timbers this season, so they'll certainly have their hands full on Sunday. Fortunately for the Sounders, the next encounter between the two rivals will be at CenturyLink Field, and you can always count on Seattle soccer fans to come out in droves whenever the Timbers are in town.
Attendance for Seattle's next game is expected to exceed 66,000, and that should give the Sounders a mental boost throughout the match.
"It's a great tribute to [the] MLS and to the Northwest rivalries," Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said about their remarkable ticket sales. "It's going to be an electric atmosphere."
Given how much is on the line for the Sounders right now, it's hard to see them losing on Oct. 7.
With only four regular season games left, the Sounders will need to bring their A-game every time they step onto the field. Home-field advantage will certainly be crucial during the postseason, and the Sounders can't afford to settle for the fourth seed in the west, especially after playing so well all season.
"It's a special occasion, for sure," midfielder Brad Evans said about Seattle's upcoming contest. "It's one that we look forward to. ... This is a massive game for us, as well."
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Player and game information from ESPN and SoundersFC.com
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