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Sporting KC v Portland Timbers: Preview, Predictions, Injuries & Starting XI

First place Sporting KC (that just sounds nice) hosts the Portland Timbers in the clubs second meeting of the year.

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MLS: Sporting KC at Portland Timbers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC v Portland Timbers (#SKCvPOR)

Saturday, July 1, 2017 at 6:00 PM CT

ESPN | fuboTV (free trial) | MLS Live (Canada)

The Timbers are making their first and only trip to Kansas City on Saturday. Sporting Kansas City will be looking for a clean sweep after they defeated the then first place Timbers at Providence Park earlier in the season. That win came via beautiful build-up play and a Dom Dwyer header. Let’s just take a moment to peek at that goal again.

At the time of the first meeting, Sporting were playing pretty good, but Portland were playing great. Those poor fans in Oregon were stunned after that goal. Being stunned is becoming common place for Portland as they gave up a game tying goal to the Sounders this weekend in the dying moments of the game while up a man. Needless to say, the Timbers will be looking to bounce back.

This will be the first time the Timbers have been in Sporting Park Children’s Mercy Park since July 31, 2016. In that game KC pulled off another 1-0 victory with a Jacob Peterson goal that was assisted by Benny Feilhaber. Neither of those men will be on the pitch Saturday.

It may not matter though because Portland have been down right awful as of late. They have the worst record in the league over their last 10 games, picking up just nine points! They have improved slightly as they have seven points in their last five, but they are still out of form. They won’t be aided by terrible play from their back line which is decimated with injuries and absences. Lawrence Olum, who Sporting KC traded to Portland earlier in the year, is likely to start but it’s unclear who he’ll be paired with. New signing Larrys Mabiala won’t be available until after the secondary transfer window opens on July 10th.

Injuries

Sporting KC

OUT: None

QUESTIONABLE: Benny Feilhaber (ankle sprain)

Timbers

OUT: Gbenga Arokoyo (Achilles tear), Jack Barmby (ankle injury), Liam Ridgewell (quad injury), Diego Chara (hamstring strain), Amobi Okugo (sprained MCL)

QUESTIONABLE: Chance Myers (hamstring injury), Darlington Nagbe (hamstring injury)

Suspensions

Sporting KC - None [Roger Espinoza suspended the next yellow card. Seth Sinovic got the good behavior incentive (for a second time) and won’t be suspended the next yellow.]

Timbers - None [Vytas Andriuškevičius suspended next yellow card]

International Duty

Sporting KC - Dom Dwyer, Graham Zusi, Matt Besler (United States)

Timbers - David Guzman (Costa Rica), Darren Mattocks, Alvas Powell (Jamaica)

Recent Form

Sporting KC - Last Five: L/W/D/D/W (8 Points)

Timbers - Last Five: W/W/L/L/D (7 Points)

Leading Scorers

  • Sporting KC: Gerso Fernandes (6), Dom Dwyer (5), Latif Blessing, Ike Opara, Benny Feilhaber (2)
  • Timbers: Diego Valeri, Fanendo Adi (9), Darlington Nagbe, Sebastian Blanco, Dairon Asprilla (2)

Sporting KC are playing their third game in eight days. It’s the fourth time this season Sporting have been in this situation. All of those have happened since May. SKC are 0-2-1 in the prior three. The difference is the third game in all those series was played on the road (and two of three were played on turf). The boys will be at home for this match-up.

Sporting have been downright fantastic at home over the last year plus. They are currently on a 17 game home unbeaten streak and before their draw with Montreal, they had won six straight at home. Portland have lost five straight on the road as well.

All is not lost for Portland though. Depending on what lineup Sporting put on the field, there should be openings. The Houston Dynamo put out a reserve heavy lineup in the US Open Cup and managed to get numerous strong chances on goal. If SKC give up those chances to Portland, they will make them pay.

Starting XI Predictions

Rest of the 18: Dykstra, Mustivar, Ellis, Salloi, Saad, Pasher, Iwasa

As for who starts against the Timbers, there is so much to factor in. Not only is this the third game in eight days, but Sporting is returning from three consecutive road games. They also have yet another game against the Philadelphia Union next Thursday. At some point, the club has to rest. The Gold Cup break doesn’t start until SKC play FC Dallas on the 11th of July. I’m going to guess, since Philly is the worst of the three teams, there is squad rotation during that game.

There are only two positions on the field I’m not 100% confident in. Who plays center back next to Ike Opara and who plays center forward? Erik Palmer-Brown came on as a substitute and pushed Ellis out to right back (where I’m really intrigued to see him play more). EPB needs to get the start at CB. It’s time to see what the club has.

As for center forward, Cameron Porter was a surprise starter against the Dynamo, but he was mostly ineffective. I’m not sure that it was his fault as the team really looked uneven in the first half (or 60 minutes) of that game. Soony Saad was surprisingly missing from the 18 for that game and we haven’t heard why from the team.

The most logical move is to start Diego Rubio. He’s not 90 minutes fit so when he has to come off we’ll throw a curve ball and see if Blessing can play that role and let Daniel Salloi slide in to that left winger spot again. Salloi and Blessing can both play CF and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them rotate during the game.

As for the outcome of the game, it feels like a recipe for a sloppy match. A potentially tired Sporting KC team could give up some goals because Portland are just so good at putting them in the net. But because Portland may not have enough healthy defenders to field a back line, they’ll probably make some mistakes and give up some goals.

Prediction: 2-2 Draw

I assume Opara will score at least one of those goals.

Who do you think will start? Who do you think should start? And what is your prediction for an outcome? Let us know in the comments.