Matchday 9: Sporting KC vs. Portland Timbers Match Preview

Jonathan Ferrey

Sporting KC returns home Saturday night to face Michael Harrington and the Portland Timbers.

Last year Michael Harrington was a defensive reserve for Sporting Kansas City. A very adequate one, and player featured prominently on the back line of the Kansas City Wizards for the better part of three seasons.

More than 10,000 minutes logged with a team are not forgotten easily. Tonight, however, Harrington will play at Sporting Park for the first time as an opponent.

Previewing Sporting KC

The Eastern Conference leading Sporting Kansas City will be trying to avenge a dreadful loss to Los Angeles this past Saturday as they completed a cross-country road trip in four days. This is the first match they have had at home since their April 5th win against DC United.

Sporting holds a slim one-point lead in the East over Houston and Houston has played one less match than Sporting. A win tonight is something Sporting KC would benefit a lot from as it may give them some breathing room at the top of the conference.

Previewing Portland

Portland is sitting in fourth place in the Western Conference in their third MLS season. Six days ago, Portland went into Buck Shaw Stadium and drew with San Jose, which was preceded by two wins in a row. This year's Portland squad is visibly better than last years.

Portland is currently one point out of second place. A win tonight against Sporting could propel them to second place, whereas a loss and several other Western teams winning could have Portland drop near the bottom of the table.

Sporting player to watch: Claudio Bieler

After scoring four goals in the first six games, Claudio Bieler has not been too much of a threat the past couple of games, even getting subbed off in the Los Angeles game. Tonight, we'll see if Bieler can get back into a scoring groove against the Portland back line.

Portland player to watch: Michael Harrington

Who else from Portland by Mikey Harrington. As stated above, this is Harrington's first visit to Kansas City while not in a blue uniform. He's been a very good defender for the Timber this far in 2013, but tonight's duel with the high-pressure Sporting offense will be a good test of Harrington's ability as a renewed starter.

What Sporting needs to do to win

Sporting will need to keep doing what they have been doing the whole season: Keep the defense on their toes. Portland may or may not use the "Park the Bus" tactic in tonight's matchup, but if they do, Sporting needs to keep hammering the ball down the throats of the Timber's back line until they force a mistake and a goal.

What Portland needs to do to win

Portland needs to shut down Sporting in the midfield. Sporting has had some great success this year with a new midfield in Benny Feilhaber, Ori Rosell and Paulo Nagamura. Portland will have to stop the distribution in the midfield and not allow the Sporting forwards a chance at the ball.

Prediction

Sporting Kansas City 1-0 Portland

I feel that, even though Portland is much better in 2013, Sporting can still force a mistake and earn a goal to win it in a close matchup.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join The Blue Testament

You must be a member of The Blue Testament to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Blue Testament. You should read them.

Join The Blue Testament

You must be a member of The Blue Testament to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Blue Testament. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9353_tracker