The Portland Timbers are ninety minutes away from the MLS Cup Final. To get there, the team will need to weather the storm at Children’s Mercy Park, hold fast to the defensive style that has defined the team this season, and, in the end, break down a Sporting Kansas City side that finished the season on top of the Western Conference.
While the Timbers were able to take the game to Sporting in leg one, leg two promises to be a different sort of affair. SKC have been a fearsome side at home in 2018, accumulating a 10-2-5 record and outscoring their opponents by seventeen goals — including a 3-0 win against the Timbers. That sort of firepower will be difficult for any team, even one as organized as the Timbers, to stifle.
However, Sporting have not been invincible at home and the Timbers, by virtue of not giving up an away goal, need only to draw the home side to force overtime or even advance. The pressure is on, but it is shared by both sides; in front of a cold Kansas City crowd, SKC will be urged forward and cracks will open for the Timbers to take advantage.
The First Leg
Scoreline: 0-0 at Providence Park
Match Recap: Portland Timbers play Sporting Kansas City to scoreless draw in Leg 1 of Western Conference Final
Six Degrees: Home Shutouts Are Gold
Storylines: “Will Vermes have the Wiz sit back like they did in Portland? Or will they be back to their normal selves, keeping the ball from the Timbers? The Timbers have no problem sitting back and hitting on the counter, which is something they will no doubt be prepared for. I wouldn’t expect anything less than a 4-3-3, which is their bread and butter; they’ve used only one other formation this season and only once (4-1-4-1).”
How to watch: ESPN
Where: Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, KS
When: Thursday, November 29th at 6:30 p.m. PT
Portland Timbers: Finished in 5th place in the Western Conference, Beat FC Dallas in the Knockout Round, Beat Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference Semifinals
Sporting Kansas City: Finished in 1st place in the Western Conference, Beat Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Semifinals