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Sporting KC v Portland Timbers: Preview, Predictions, Stats and Roster Changes

Is this the first real test of the season or are Portland too banged up?

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MLS: Portland Timbers at Sporting Kansas City Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC @ Portland Timbers

When: Saturday, June 19, 2021 at 9:30 PM CT (Kickoff 9:38)

Where: Providence Park

How to Watch/Stream: | Bally Sports KC (regionally) | Bally Sports Midwest (regionally) |
ESPN+ (out of market or over VPN locally)
How to Listen: Sports Radio 810 WHB | La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish)

For much of the season, second place Sporting Kansas City have been said to be overachieving because of their lack of quality opponents. Of the team’s five wins on the season, only two are against teams currently above the (admittedly very early) red playoff line (San Jose Earthquakes and Houston Dynamo). The other three wins over Austin FC, the Vancouver Whitecaps and the New York Red Bulls, are against “lesser” teams. Even the “good” teams aren’t consistently good.

Add to that the fact that Sporting KC have played more games than literally every other team in the league in 2021 and that second place positions seems more tenuous.

Saturday is a chance to prove SKC’s quality. The team hits the road to face the Timbers who are currently in 7th place (the final playoff spot), though they’ve played two less games than KC. They’ve also been bitten by injuries and a CONCACAF Champions League schedule that makes life tough on anyone.

Regardless, beating Portland on the road will mean something.

Portland’s Recent Form

The Timbers will have gone nearly three weeks between games when they take the field Saturday. There is something to be said for maintaining a rhythm.

What’s changed for Portland since 2020?

Portland didn’t make a ton of moves between the 2020 and 2021 seasons. That said, they had a strong team last year.

IN: The two “big” additions are a bit low-key but could be important. The team upgraded both fullback spots, adding left back Claudio Bravo from Banfield (Argentina) and Josecarlos Van Rankin at right back from Chivas (Mexico) on loan. The club added midfielder George Fochive on loan from Bnei Yehuda Tel Aviv FC (Israel) and a couple other lower level signings.

OUT: The Timbers traded former fullback Marco Farfan to LAFC and lost defender Julio Cascante to Austin FC in the expansion draft. Outside of that they declined contract options of midfielder Andres Flores and defender Chris Duvall before mutually parting ways with promising but disappointing midfielder Tomas Conechny.

Injuries*

Sporting KC

OUT - Kendall McIntosh (adductor), Remi Walter (knee)

QUESTIONABLE - Gadi Kinda (foot), Graham Zusi (hamstring)

*This has been updated with the official injury report as Zusi upgrades and Kinda downgrades.

Portland

OUT - Cristhian Paredes (left thigh strain), Jaroslaw Niezgoda (left ACL surgery), Ismaila Jome (left Achilles tendon surgery), Andy Polo (right thigh), Jeff Attinella (right thigh)

QUESTIONABLE - Aljaz Ivacic (athletic pubalgia surgery), Diego Chara (right thigh strain), Larrys Mabiala (left thigh strain), Steve Clark (left thigh strain), Sebastian Blanco (right ACL surgery)

International Duty

Stats

Sporting KC

GOALS: Alan Pulido (5), Daniel Salloi (4), Gadi Kinda (3), Gianluca Busio (2), Ilie Sanchez, Jaylin Lindsey (1)

ASSISTS: Khiry Shelton (3), Daniel Salloi, Johnny Russell (2), Luis Martins, Gadi Kinda, Gianluca Busio, Alan Pulido (1)

Portland

GOALS: Felipe Mora (2), Eryk Williamson, Bill Tuiloma, Marvin Loria, Diego Valeri, Cristhian Paredes, Yimmi Chara, Dairon Asprilla (1)

ASSISTS: Mora, Williamson (2), six with one

Starting XI Predictions

Look for this after the official injury report comes out, in it’s own story, as usual.

Score Predictions

The Timbers, despite their brutally long injury list, are still a good team. If the team is without Diego Chara, that opens up a big opportunity, no matter who else is out there. As it stands, Sporting KC are the better team and they’ll be receiving back Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda from international duty. Even without two of their Designated Players, they created endless chances against Austin FC and should have run away with that game.

Beating a short-handed Portland will still leave plenty of doubters. But with the form the team is currently in, combined with Portland’s long layoff and injuries, KC should find a way, even on the road late at night in the Pacific Northwest.

2-1 Sporting KC Win

What do you think? Predictions in the comments are welcome. Let’s chat about it.

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