Timbers-Sounders Preview

ALAN FERGUSON (STATS Writer)

After taking some time to recharge from the World Cup and heal his broken nose, Clint Dempsey is available for Seattle for the first time in two months.

He could return for the Sounders' attempt at a franchise record-tying sixth consecutive MLS home win Sunday night and their second matchup with the rival Portland Timbers in five days.

Dempsey served as the United States' captain in Brazil and led the squad to the knockout round in back-to-back World Cups for the first time. He scored a pair of goals, making him the first American to register at least one in three straight competitions and played through a broken nose he suffered in the opener against Ghana.

"I'm glad to be back. I'm excited about getting started again," said Dempsey, who last played in the U.S.'s 2-1 loss to Belgium on July 1.

The Sounders (11-4-2) got Dempsey's teammate, defender DeAndre Yedlin, back for their 3-1 win in extra time against visiting Portland (4-5-9) in Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals. Yedlin is drawing attention from European teams after his performance at the World Cup, but the 21-year-old will concentrate on helping his league-leading club match a record run at home established last July 28-Sept. 13.

The Sounders will also try to avoid back-to-back MLS losses for the first time this season.

Seattle ended a three-game win streak and a five-game unbeaten run with a 1-0 loss to their other Cascadia Cup foe, Vancouver, on July 5. The Sounders have scored one goal in their last two league contests, but it's unknown how much of a role Dempsey will have in Sunday's game.

"We'll see. We'll figure that out," coach Sigi Schmid said.

Schmid's club will try to get back on track against a Timbers squad that's 0-1-2 in its last three MLS games. Portland was in line for a win against Los Angeles on July 4 but defender Rauwshan McKenzie conceded an own goal in the 86th minute of a 2-all draw.

"We don't need to panic here," coach Caleb Porter said. "We need to stick with the trend that we've been following and get a few more wins. Other than that, we're in good shape in terms where we can be at the end of the year."

Portland is 3-0-1 in its last four league matches with Seattle - including a two-game sweep in last year's Western Conference semifinals - and played to a 4-all draw in its lone one this season April 5 at home.

The Timbers led 4-2 after goals by Diego Chara and Maximilano Urruti two minutes apart early in the second half, but Dempsey completed his only MLS hat trick by converting a penalty kick for the equalizer in the 87th minute.

Dempsey is still among the MLS leaders with eight goals despite playing only nine matches.

The Timbers won't have Chara after he earned his fifth yellow card of the season in the draw with Los Angeles.

Portland is 1-2-2 in Seattle in MLS play and earned that lone win Nov. 2 in the playoffs. The Timbers are 3-0-2 in their last five league road contests.