MLS Countdown: New Timber Taylor fit to face Sounders

Centerback Steven Taylor, cut loose two months ago by Newcastle United during the transition to new manager Rafael Benitez, will be on the game-day roster for a Cascadia Cup showdown with Seattle on Sunday.

Taylor has yet to play for the first team but played the full 90 minutes and scored a goal as its reserve team, Portland Timbers 2, beat Orange County Blues, 2-1, in a USL match last weekend.

Taylor, 30, was already on Portland’s list of Discovery Players last month when centerback Nat Borchers suffered a season-ending injury to his Achilles’ tendon. At the team’s training session Tuesday head coach Caleb Porter said he’s yet to decide if Taylor will make his first MLS appearance as a starter or be available off the bench, perhaps to replace another Taylor on the roster, Jermaine Taylor.

“He's certainly fit enough to play 90, but is he ready, completely sharp enough, exactly where we want him to be?,” said Porter. “No doubt, he'll get better over time. So, we have to decide, do we stick with Jermaine and Ridgy [Liam Ridgewell], or do we put Steven Taylor in?”

A bone bruise will sideline defender Zarek Valentin, who has played 18 games (17 starts( along the back line this season, mostly in the outside slots. Nigerian defender Gbenka Arokoyo, who signed with Portland after his Discovery rights were obtained in a trade with New York City FC, arrived last week and has begun training with the team. Porter said Arokoyo, 23, could be ready for first-team action in “two to three weeks.”

Their showdown Sunday at CenturyLink Field  occurs in circumstances rare for this point in the season. Both teams are under .500 and only Portland (8-9-8, 32 points) is in the playoff tier, just barely.

Seattle 8-12-3, 27 points) has won two games and tied one since Brian Schmetzer replaced Sigi Schmid as head coach yet is still five points behind the sixth-place Timbers, which would fall out of the playoff packet if the Quakes beat Houston Friday or Vancouver defeats Sporting Kansas City Saturday.

WEEK 24:
Friday, August 19
11:00 pm San Jose vs. Houston UniMas
Saturday, August 20
3:30 pm New York City vs. LA Galaxy ESPN, ESPN Deportes
7 pm Philadelphia vs. Toronto FC
7:30 pm Montreal vs. Chicago
7:30 pm New England vs. Columbus
8:30 pm Sporting KC vs. Vancouver
9 pm Colorado vs. Orlando City
10 pm Real Salt Lake vs. FC Dallas
Sunday, August 21
3 pm D.C. United vs. NY Red Bulls ESPN, ESPN Deportes
9:30 pm Seattle vs. Portland FS1, Fox Deportes
All times ET.

MLS Standings:
38 New York City 10-7-8 43/43
37 Toronto FC 10-7-7 34/25
36 NY Red Bulls 10-9-6 43/33
34 Philadelphia 9-8-7 42/37
33 Montreal 8-6-9 38/34
27 D.C. United 6-8-9 24/28
27 Orlando City 5-6-12 38/41
26 New England 6-10-8 29/44
20 Columbus 3-8-11 29/38
19 Chicago 4-11-7 22/32

45 FC Dallas 13-6-6 39/33
42 Colorado 11-3-9 27/20
38 LA Galaxy 9-3-11 38/23
37 Real Salt Lake 10-8-7 36/36
35 Sporting KC 10-11-5 30/30
32 Portland 8-9-8 36/36
31 San Jose 7-6-10 25/25
30 Vancouver 8-11-6 34/41
27 Seattle 8-12-3 26/30
21 Houston 4-10-9 25/29

Leading Scorers:
15 Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC)
David Villa (New York City)
14 Bradley Wright-Phillips (NY Red Bulls)
13 Ignacio Piatti (Montreal)
12 Dom Dwyer (Sporting KC)
12 Cyle Larin (Orlando City)
11 Fanendo Adi (Portland)
10 Chris Pontius (Philadelphia)
10 Ola Kamara (Columbus)
10 Diego Valeri (Portland)




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