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Match Preview: Sporting KC look to start second half of the season on a high note

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Sporting KC come out of the World Cup break tonight, looking to get some momentum before their World Cup players come back.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

About the Teams

Sporting Kansas City

Sporting Kansas City comes into this match with a lot of worries. They don't have much depth at the current moment due to injuries and World Cup absences (By all means Zusi and Besler, take your time in Brazil. If you don't come home until after playing in the final I'm totally cool with that). They won their last league match against an equally depleted Houston squad, but looked horrible in their latest US Open Cup match with Portland. They'll be starting many of the same players as Tuesday due to their unforeseen lack of depth. a

Portland Timbers

The Timbers are on a roll in all competitions, winning four out of their last five games in MLS play and have advanced to the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup. They've also been virtually unaffected by the World Cup, so they'll have a full strength lineup going tonight. After starting the season off so slowly, they're climbing back into the playoff race with their current form and currently sit sixth in the Western Conference. With how much of the season is left and the Timbers' recent results, they should be back to last year's position in no time.

Who to Watch

Sporting Kansas City- Alex Martinez

With Benny Feilhaber out with a separated shoulder and Antonio Dovale out with a red card suspension, Sporting KC is going to have to go to their bench for the attacking midfield position. After Claudio Bieler's lackluster performance against Minnesota United FC, Alex Martinez could be called upon to take the starting role. Martinez has impressed so far, bringing a nice, creative option off the bench with the ability to score. Should he get the start tonight, it'll be interesting to see how he adjusts to Portland trying to push the game out wide.

Portland Timbers- Will Johnson

Tuesday night we saw Portland use a 4-1-4-1 formation to clog the middle and force the game out wide. For this match, they may redouble these efforts by using a 4-2-3-1 formation with Will Johnson and Diego Chara as the two defensive midfielders. This will really frustrate the Sporting KC midfield as they try and to get the ball to Dwyer. If Will Johnson is playing his game right, Portland will be able to really go for the jugular with their midfield and Adi up top while not having to worry about Sporting coming back on a counter.

Why They'll Win

Sporting Kansas City

Sporting KC will have a similar lineup to Tuesday but they should also perform much better tonight. Considering the poor and unusual performance from Seth Sinovic and the entire defense in general, Vermes should have emphasized the fullbacks not getting too far forward after Tuesday's match. Plus, Portland typically likes to go for the win at home so the game is going to be more open and Sporting KC won't have to worry about the counter as much. When the game is open and both teams are able to go for the goal is when Sporting KC typically does better.

Portland Timbers

The Timbers are going to win this match for several reasons. One, they play a style allows them to score lots of goals, one of the reasons they are second in the league in that department. Sporting KC's defense is also tattered, although playing better than expected. Portland can take advantage of that. They also have a full strength lineup that is rested and was playing to their potential before the break. Finally, the Providence Park home field advantage is no joke and this Timber's team can really control the game at home. They're coming in soaring and Sporting KC is coming in limping. The Timbers should be able to handle this game.

Predictions

Lineups

Sporting KC: Kronberg; Juliao, Palmer-Brown, Collin, Sinovic; Olum, Nagamura, Martinez; Zizzo, Dwyer, Saad.

Portland Timbers (From Michael Orr): Donovan Ricketts; Michael Harrington, Pa Kah, Rauwshan McKenzie, Alvas Powell; Will Johnson, Diego Chara; Rodney Wallace, Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe; Fanendo Adi.

Scoreline

Sporting Kansas City 1-2 Portland Timbers