Portland Timbers @ Sporting Kansas City Preview and Match Thread [5:30 PM]

Due to a harsh tackle last week and some disgraceful antics afterwards, we won't be seeing this DP tonight. (Omar Bravo)

On your marks... get set... GO! That's what I imagine will happen this evening as thousands of Timbers fans across Portland race to get home (or to the bar) from their respective workplaces. For some who work or live far outside the city there's probably little chance of you making the somewhat early kickoff tonight. Such are the follies when you play in a league that expands three four time zones.

In any case, tonight's match is sure to be an exciting one if for nothing else than, should the Timbers lose tonight they may very well be out of the playoff race for good. With only 10 games left on the table after tonight's game, the Timbers would have to win most of them to even reach 50 points by the end of the season and make it into the top FOUR in the Western Conference. A steep climb for any team...

Let's check out the teams.

Assessing Our Team

Last Sunday saw the Timbers take on the Houston Dynamo for the first time and it wasn't pretty. The first half was full of glaring mistakes and lucky chances by Houston who secured their three points. The Adam Moffat goal was really unfortunate for the Timbers as it really came out of nowhere. Nobody would ever, or should ever expect that kind of goal to happen. After that the Timbers just sort of broke down for the rest of the first half. The second half performance was better but ultimately not enough to claim any points.

So looking ahead to tonight's game is a difficult proposition. Who's to say which Timbers will show up? Typically the Timbers haven't played well on the road in the past. Then again the guys might be looking for a little revenge heading into tonight's match after Sporting KC won at Jeld-Wen Field earlier this year.

What we do know is that Eddie Johnson will not be playing tonight. I'm still unsure about what happened, but if I had to guess I would say it had to do with his previous concussion sustained earlier this month. That means we'll probably be back to the Jorge Perlaza/Kenny Cooper team up top. Not that I'm complaining, I though both played well together against the San Jose Earthquakes. In fact, they were the only players I felt good about that game.

The big news heading into tonight's game is, of course, Jack Jewsbury's return to Kansas City. Capn' Jack played for KC for eight years prior to joining the Timbers so his reunion there will be something of a homecoming, although everything he once knew about the team has changed significantly. New players, new uniform, new stadium and, most of all, new name. His play tonight will hopefully be indicative of everything that Sporting KC gave up when they let him go.

Finally, some small news in the back, Lovel Palmer the Timbers new right back will not be playing tonight. He recieved his fifth yellow card against Houston and, as such, must serve a one game suspension. Instead we'll probably see Jeremy Hall or Steve Purdy... my bet is on Hall.

Here's my projected starting line up:

Troy Perkins; Mike Chabala, David Horst, Eric Brunner, Jeremy Hall; Sal Zizzo, Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara, Darlington Nagbe; Kenny Cooper, Jorge Perlaza

Assessing the Enemy

The last time the Timbers played Sporting Kansas City it wasn't a pretty match. With goals highlighted by CJ Sapong and Aurelien Collin it would probably be considered one of the worse games played at home if not for the Darlington nagbe strike that shook the world. Well, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit. Still, they beat us at our home so you can bet they'll expect to win again tonight.

There are three guys the Timbers defensive backline will have to look out for tonight: Kei Kamara, C.J. Sapong and Teal Bunbury. Still, with 6 goals for Kamara 5 goals for Bunbury and 3 for Sapong (who leads the team in assists) they have an impressive arsenal at their disposal. Overall their top five strikers have outscored all but one of the Timbers top five strikers...

Luckily for us, one of their top goalscorers and their Designated Player Omar Bravo will not be playing tonight as he serves his one game suspension for his red card against the Seattle Sounders. This is good news because, based on what I've seen, Bravo is a scummy player. AS much as I despise Seattle, his attitude after receiving that red card was disgraceful, especially when he feigned injury from a "headbutt" after he got in the face of Pat Noonan. If there's one thing I hate more than a Seattle player, it's a damn dirty diver. The Timbers won't have to put up with that nonsense from him tonight.

Final Thoughts

It's important for the Timbers to win tonight not only for the points, but also for morale. Sporting KC came into Jeld-Wen a couple months ago and beat the Timbers on their  home turf. Now it's time for some revenge. Seattle proved last week that Sporting Kansas City wasn't impenetrable and could be defeated after going on a 14 game undefeated streak. A win tonight would go a long ways toward rebuilding morale as well as the playoff hopes.

--

Tonight's game is on Fox12 and kicks off at 5:30 PM.

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