Sporting Kansas City-Timbers Preview
Sporting Kansas City is making quite a push for the playoffs. Whether it will be enough remains to be seen.
Kansas City looks to extend its season-high winning streak to four games Saturday night when it visits a Portland Timbers side that's one spot ahead in the Western Conference table.
SKC (10-11-7) is currently one of the hottest teams in MLS, owning a 4-1 goal advantage while beating San Jose, Minnesota and Houston - all at home. That run left Sporting five spots out of playoff position in the West - still with plenty of work to be done but more confident than probably at any other point during what's been a frustrating season.
"I said a few weeks back, we're not going to give up without a fight, and I think we're showing that," forward Johnny Russell, who scored his ninth goal of the season in the 12th minute of last weekend's 1-0 victory over the Dynamo, told Kansas City's official website.
"We've let everyone down for so long this season the way we've played, we're showing everyone we want to be here, we want to win. I think the last few weeks, the results have shown that."
However, it will not be easy to keep the good times coming. SKC plays four of its final six matches on the road, with two of the six against a Portland side that is one spot and three points ahead of it in the West.
"We still have a long way to go, but we're on the right track," Kansas City keeper Tim Melia said. "We have a really difficult, really important task coming against Portland."
Sporting is 3-6-4 away from home and split its last four road contests. It's also 1-0-2 over its last three matches at Portland, including a scoreless draw in the first leg of the 2018 conference finals.
Though the Timbers might not have some members of their devoted supporter section on hand after stadium bans where handed down for those waving banners that are reported to be of a political nature, the atmosphere at the renovated Providence Park should be no less raucous.
The Timbers avoided a third consecutive defeat with last weekend's 1-0 home victory over Real Salt Lake. Diego Valeri scored in the 16th minute and Portland held on after Renzo Zambrano was issued a late red card.
"(Those) three points keep us closer to this difficult table," coach Giovanni Savarese told the Timbers' official website. "Everybody is fighting to survive. Everybody is fighting to make the playoff."
Valeri (eight goals, 15 assists) has scored in back-to-back games for Portland, which will play its only remaining road contest at Kansas City on Sept. 29.
Updated September 5, 2019