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PREVIEW: Sporting KC head to Providence Park for rematch with Portland Timbers



Sporting Kansas City at Portland Timbers

When: Saturday, May 25 at 9:30 p.m.
Where: Providence Park – Portland, Oregon
How to Watch: MLS Season Pass


POR: 3W-7L-4D

Last Result
4-0 Win vs FC Tulsa (US Open Cup)
POR: 2-1 Loss at Minnesota United


After a midweek victory in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Sporting Kansas City hope to carry that momentum back into the regular season to earn their first regular season victory since March 30 as they travel to the Pacific Northwest to take on the Portland Timbers.

It’s a rematch of the infamous blown 3-0 lead on April 7 at Children’s Mercy Park which sparked the beginning of this winless run for Peter Vermes and Co.

Visits to Providence Park have not been positive for SKC in recent history, having lost 4 straight in Portland with the last win coming in 2017.

If you look at just the goals, Kansas City and Portland look similar:
GF: 26; GA: 29; GD: -3
SKC: GF: 21; GA: 24; GD: -3

It’s not until you see the xG that you see that the two teams are trending in opposite directions:
POR (xG): 21.8
SKC (xG): 16.9

I’m not the biggest fan of xG, but I do know that you would rather have a higher one. In MLS, SKC is bottom 5 and Portland are at least in the top half when it comes to xG.

It’s important to understand that stats and numbers don’t win games. Despite looking better than SKC, Portland have one win in their last 11 matches. Just like SKC, the Timbers did not win a match in the month of April.

“We do feel we’re headed in the right direction, there are signs,” said Timbers head coach Phil Neville.

The continuing trend for SKC has been a lack of production from offensive players.

Timbers striker Felipe Mora has more goals (6) this season on his own account than the trio of starting forwards for SKC.

In the past two regular season games, Johnny Russell and Daniel Salloi opened their goal accounts for 2024. It took 11 games for either of those two pillars of the attacking third to find the back of the net.

It’s tough to take much away from the US Open Cup win over Tulsa, but it should be noted that none of the four goal scorers in that game were starters and no goals were scored while Salloi, Russell or KC’s highest paid player Alan Pulido were on the field, even though Tulsa were down to 10 men for all but one minute of the second half.

As important as momentum is during the course of the season, despite that one-sided Open Cup victory, Sporting has not shown any momentum.

We are a few weeks removed from Vermes hitting his breaking point in a post-game presser. And even further removed from when he told reporters he was not worried about giving up late goals and losing leads. Arguably, things have gotten worse. Sporting has lost four straight and hasn’t come out of a match with a point since April 20 vs St. Louis.

According to Daniel Sperry, Remi Walter may be out for Saturday’s match and should be the only player listed as questionable.

Dany Rosero should return to the defensive lineup after playing 45 minutes against Tulsa meaning SKC should be close to full strength against the Timbers.

Depending on how other matches shake out, Sporting could see themselves at the bottom of the table and contending for the Wooden Spoon.

After last season, it is hard to say definitively that it’s getting to be too late to right the ship, but SKC need to start climbing the table if they want to be taken seriously in any capacity.

Each match that goes by without earning points is just another egg in the “is it time for monumental change?” basket. Each match is also an opportunity for Sporting to take advantage and right the ship.

SKC will have their hands full. Though they should win the possession battle, it will come down to the quality of chances and how well the forwards and midfielders can create moving forward.

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