Portland vs. Sporting KC (image)

Preview: Struggling Timbers look to rebound vs. Sporting

The Portland Timbers return home trying to halt a recent slide and cool off visiting Sporting Kansas City when the clubs meet Saturday at Jeld-Wen Field. The Timbers lost for fourth time in five games last time out, a 4-0 defeat at FC Dallas. Sporting won for the second straight game in their new ground and extended their league unbeaten streak to seven in a 2-1 win against Vancouver Whitecaps FC.


REFEREE: Hilario Grajeda. SAR (bench): Anthony Vasoli; JAR (opposite): Colin Arblaster; 4th: Drew Fischer
MLS Career: 45 games; FC/gm: 25.3; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 9; pens: 8

INJURY REPORT: PORTLAND TIMBERS – OUT: FW Bright Dike (R Achilles rupture); DF David Horst (L hip flexor); MF Peter Lowry (L quadriceps strain); FW Spencer Thompson (R knee); PROBABLE: DF Mamadou Danso (L shoulder); MF Jack Jewsbury (hamstring strain) …

SPORTING KANSAS CITY – OUT: FW Konrad Warzycha (R knee surgery); MF Craig Rocastle (R knee sprain); MF Davy Arnaud (R groin strain)

SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: POR: Jeremy Hall, Rodney Wallace

ALL-TIME: First meeting.
RETURN MATCH: 8/17: Sporting Kansas City vs. Portland Timbers, 6:30 p.m. CT
•    Coaches record: Peter Vermes v POR: first game … John Spencer vs. KC: first game

The Portland Timbers saw their winless skid reach five games, falling 4-0 to FC Dallas on Saturday night at Pizza Hut Park. The Timbers have 18 points from 14 games, sitting in seventh place in the Western Conference.

•    FC Dallas had a two-goal lead before halftime. In the 33rd minute, Zach Loyd headed home his first career goal off a Daniel Hernandez corner kick. Center back George John followed suit five minutes later — also with a header from a Hernandez corner.
•    FCD made it 3-0 in the 58th minute. Right back Jackson laced a through-ball to Eric Alexander, who fired at Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins. The ball rolled away from Perkins' dive and hit the far post, leaving Shea with an open goal to tap home.
•    Five minutes before full time, Jackson provided the knockout punch. Perkins parried his long-range blast into the air, but the ball looped high then fell into the goal, adjudged to have crossed the line just before Ruben Luna finished it off with a header to the back of the net.
•    Timbers coach John Spencer made one change to the team that lost 1-0 to the Colorado Rapids at Jeld-Wen Field. Mamadou Danso came back from injury and replaced David Horst.
•    PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-4-2): Troy Perkins - Jeremy Hall, Mamadou Danso, Eric Brunner, Rodney Wallace - Kalif Alhassan (Sal Zizzo 57), Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara, Darlington Nagbe (Adam Moffat 46) - Kenny Cooper, Jorge Perlaza (Eddie Johnson 63).

•    The Timbers lost for a fourth time in their last five games, conceding four goals in the loss at FC Dallas, the most in club history since being in MLS.
•    “I thought we were very poor,” Portland head coach John Spencer said. “From the first moment to the last, we never matched them at all, never got close to them, never tackled them, never ran with them. Just a poor, poor performance.”
•    The Timbers are still winless on the road, having lost five of seven games away from Jeld-Wen Field. They are one of five teams still without a win on the road (also: Houston, New England, Toronto, Vancouver).
•    “When you play as poorly as that, you can accept it as an off day,” Spencer said. “But now we seem to be on the road and getting beat too easy, and that’s unacceptable and I told them that.”
•    Spencer indicated changes could be coming to his team. Since the start of May, just 13 different players have made starts for the Timbers, the only changes usually forced by injury or suspension.
•    “There’s no guarantee for the starters. You have to earn the right to start. I’m not just blowing smoke. … The time has come to where maybe it’s time to freshen things up a bit,” Spencer said.
•    After missing the New York game through an injury that forced him off early the week before, Mamadou Danso returned to the back four.
•    “We have to quickly turn around and get it out of our heads and try to move on to the Kansas City game. They (Kansas City) came and won here so they are going to have that courage coming in to our place to play well,” said Danso. “We should not lose back-to-back games. We haven’t won in five games so we have to get off to a good start to the second half of the season.”
•    Midfielder and captain Jack Jewsbury missed full training at the start of the week, held out with a groin injury.

Sporting Kansas City extended their league unbeaten streak to seven games, winning for the third time in four in a 2-1 victory against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday evening at Livestrong Sporting Park. Sporting have 17 points from 15 matches on the season, moving into a tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

•    Whitecaps FC took the lead in the 15th minute. Davide Chiumiento served a free kick from the left flank toward the penalty spot and Camilo flicked a header backwards into the far corner.
•    But Sporting equalized in the 32nd minute when Omar Bravo converted his own penalty kick from  after Jay DeMerit took him down in the box.
•    Sporting took the lead in the 40th when Bravo headed Zusi’s corner back across the six-yard box for Júlio César to whip past Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Joe Cannon.
•    SKC manager Peter Vermes made five changes to the team that reached a scoreless draw with Philadelphia Union on Wednesday evening at PPL Park. Aurelien Collin came back from suspension, joining Roger Espinoza, Milos Stojcev, Graham Zusi and C.J. Sapong in place of Luke Sassano, Birahim Diop, Kei Kamara, Davy Arnaud and Teal Bunbury
•    SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-3-1): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Roger Espinoza, Julio Cesar - Milos Stojcev (Davy Arnaud 69), Omar Bravo (Michael Harrington 85), Graham Zusi - C.J. Sapong (Kei Kamara 81).

•    Unbeaten since May 28 and winners of three in their last four, Sporting Kansas City pulled themselves out of the cellar in the Eastern Conference with the 2-1 win against Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
•    “The change is obvious now,” said Omar Bravo. “The responsibility, the attitude and the discipline has changed with these games. We’ve been a lot more positive.”
•    Sporting have allowed just four goals in their eight games. Jimmy Nielsen has seen his goals against average fall from 2.17 to 1.36 in that span; his shutout streak ended at 339 minutes, the fourth-longest in MLS this season.
•    “We did well defending and offensively as well, we were creating some good opportunities,” Nielsen said. “There was a good flow in our game. To go a goal down and then respond so quickly, it shows we have the momentum right now. We’ve got the defense, we’ve got the belief.”
•    In his last three games played, KC’s Graham Zusi has scored three goals and added two assists. He returned from missing the Philadelphia match through injury to set up the game-winner last weekend.
•    Davy Arnaud missed a game through injury for the first time since March 28, 2009. He had played 65 of the previous 72 games for KC, the only absences because of suspension and international duty. But Sporting were dealt a blow when it was announced Arnaud will undergo sports hernia surgery and miss 3-6 weeks.
•    While Aurelien Collin returned from suspension and regained his place in central defense, there was still a place for Julio César, who moved forward into a holding midfield role.
•    “He reads the game very well,” Vermes said. “He was able to tactically play a role for us that would take away a strength of the other team. I thought (against Vancouver), for me, he was close to being the best player on the field for us because of the way he played tactically. His decisions were excellent, we had great spacing between the back line and the midfielders and he was very calm.”
•    After playing exclusively at left back before joining Honduras for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, Roger Espinoza made his first start since May 21 – in the center of midfield.
•    “His response right back to me was ‘Hey, the rest of the guys played on Wednesday. I can play on Saturday as well,’” Vermes said. “I think Roger has a comfortability in the midfield right now, and you can see that he gained a lot of confidence playing the last two games for Honduras.”
•    On Tuesday, Sporting advanced to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup with a 3-0 win against the Chicago Fire PDL side. Teal Bunbury put SKC into the lead after just three minutes, then Milos Stojcev (58) and Kei Kamara (59) scored seconds apart to ice the game.
•    Here’s the Sporting team: Eric Kronberg, Michael Harrington, Shavar Thomas, Aurelien Collin (Matt Besler 83), Scott Lorenz, Luke Sassano (Graham Zusi 46), Birahim Diop, Milos Stojcev, Kei Kamara (Kevin Ellis 63), Teal Bunbury, Korede Aiyegbusi

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