Sounders brace for rival Timbers in conference semifinals

It's one thing to play in the postseason, but it's another thing to square off against your bitter rivals in the playoffs.

That's exactly what the Sounders are up against when they face Portland in the Western Conference semifinals.

"I think it's good for the league," said Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid. "This is what the playoffs should be. Having it be your rival is great."

The Sounders and Timbers open their two-game playoff series on Saturday at CenturyLink Field. It's an aggregate goal system, so the team with the most goals in the series advances to the Western Conference finals.

"Everything is do or die," said goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, "I think everything changes. It's the playoffs."

The Timbers are the top-seed in the conference after finishing 14-5-15 in the regular season, while Seattle squeaked into the playoffs by beating Colorado 2-0 in Wednesday's play-in game.

"When it's a playoff game, you throw everything out the window," said Sounders midfielder Brad Evans. "It's mental at this point. Coming off a win, it's a little bit easier to wake up in the morning and get back on the grind."

The Sounders and Timbers have already played three times this season. Each team walked away with a win, loss, and tie. The two squads only scored four goals in those three games combined.

"Possession is going to be important in this series," Schmid said. "Goals, as they should be in the playoffs, are hard to come by."

After Saturday's game in Seattle, the Western Conference semifinals shift to Portland on Thursday, November 7th.