This game features two teams going in opposite directions. Sporting Kansas City is coming into this game with the best start in MLS history with 7 wins in a row. Meanwhile the Portland Timbers are on a four game losing streak and struggling defensively. Which streak will be broken?
As usual the team is broken into three categories: Goal Keepers/Defenders, Midfielders, Forwards.
Portland will win if: The defenders play as a unit and communicate. For the past three games Portland has had defensive lapses due to miscommunication and a general lack of defensive unit cohesion. They need those lapses to end and for that to happen Eric Brunner needs to step up as a defensive captain and start demanding more from his teammates.
Portland will lose if: the defense continues to not communicate and give up the ball in their own half. If the turnovers happen deep in the Timbers' half SKC will punish the Timbers. The outside backs in particular need to be better possession wise and to be aware of their defensive assignments.
Portland will win if: The Midfielders, especially the central midfielders, show up and play effectively. They don't have to be good just effective, especially Captain Jack Jewsbury. To be effective they have to possess the ball and join in on the attack when the opportunity presents. On defense they need to pressure the ball higher up the field and create as much havoc as the can in the center of the pitch.
Portland will lose if: Defensively the CM's sit deep, almost on top of the CBs, which allows the opponents to possess the ball and probe for weaknesses. We all know what happens when a team has time to probe Portland's defense for weaknesses. Offensively if Portland continues to lob ball after ball up the field or into the box just to try and create offense this will only allow SKC more time on with the ball. More time with the ball means more time to probe for weaknesses...
Portland will win if: Kris Boyd scores an early goal again. Portland may not have held onto a lead the last three games but each of those opponents have played from behind this season. Sporting has not played from behind this year and placing them in that situation will be a major step towards winning this game. To score early Portland will need to play to Boyd's feet as well as his head.
Portland will lose if: They allow SKC to play their game and shut down any and all scoring opportunities. SKC has allowed only 2 goals and went 335 minutes without allowing a shot on goal. Defensively SKC plays compact and doesn't allow a lot behind them and if Portland allows them to stay compact they will not be able to break them down.