With only seven games left to play in the regular season, the Portland Timbers come into today’s match against Sporting Kansas City in need of points if they want to work their way back into the playoff picture. Three points against SKC would vault the Timbers into sixth place in the West, and a win by two goals or more would put them into fifth place coming out of the weekend.
Of course, a loss to Kansas City would see the Timbers lose ground on the pack in the West and, just as importantly, would see them go even with SKC on points, opening the door for yet another team to sneak into the playoff picture.
Coming into this match, the Timbers are still faced with a long list of injuries, absences, and a suspension that they will need to deal with. Center backs Larrys Mabiala, Julio Cascante, and Modou Jadama are all still listed as out on the week’s injury report, while fullbacks Zarek Valentin and Marco Farfan are both listed as questionable. Midfielders Cristhian Paredes and Andres Flores are both out due to international call-ups, while Renzo Zambrano is out for a red card suspension.
With half of their formation without a single depth player available, the Timbers will need to get complete performances out of each and every one of their players against SKC. Feeling the bulk of the pressure will certainly be whoever is deputized to play alongside Diego Chara in the midfield. With Paredes, Zambrano, and Flores all gone, the Timbers will need to either give the start to T2 regular Eryk Williamson, pull a player like Andy Polo into the center of the pitch, or do something even more drastic to accommodate their current roster situation.
Thankfully, the Timbers’ attacking corps remain intact and, while they seemed to be misfiring against Real Salt Lake last weekend, the group of Jeremy Ebobisse, Diego Valeri, Sebastian Blanco, and Brian Fernandez certainly have the talent to drag the Timbers through any match if they are able to get on the same page as each other.
Storylines: “The last time these two teams met, it was for the Western Conference title, a match that the Timbers won en route to MLS Cup. Can the Timbers find the right combination to obtain all three points, or will SKC be exacting revenge for the Western Conference finals of last year?”
Make sure to stop by the Rose City Forecast to make your predictions about today’s match.
Watch it on: ROOT Sports
Where: Providence Park in Portland, OR
When: Saturday, September 7th at 7:30 p.m. PT
Portland Timbers: 12-11-4, 8th place in the Western Conference, won 1-0 vs. Real Salt Lake
Sporting Kansas City: 10-11-7, 9th place in the Western Conference, won 1-0 vs. Houston Dynamo