Five Things, presented by Keith + Associates Dentistry, is a weekly series on SportingKC.com that highlights the top storylines, players to watch and matchday programming ahead of each game throughout the season.
The penultimate weekend of the 2019 MLS regular season will see Sporting Kansas City (10-15-7, 37 points) host the Portland Timbers (13-13-6, 45 points) in the club's home finale on Sunday at Children's Mercy Park.
Kickoff is slated for 6:30 p.m. CT and tickets remain available at SeatGeek.com or by calling 888-4KC-GOAL to secure a Family 4 Pack, consisting of four tickets, four Coca-Cola products, four bags of chips and four hamburgers, hot dogs or chicken tender baskets. The first 5,000 fans through the stadium gates will also receive a free headband courtesy of match sponsor PNC Bank. FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX Sports Midwest, FOX Sports GO, ESPN 94.5 FM and La Grande 1340 AM will carry the game live, with pregame TV coverage starting at 6 p.m. CT.
Eliminated from postseason contention for the first time since 2010, Sporting will now prepare to face a stuttering Portland side that currently sits just one point above the playoff line. With that in mind, let's jump into five things you must know for Sunday.
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1. Spoiler Role
As the cliche goes, all good things must come to an end. Such is the case with Sporting's eight-year playoff streak, which began way back in 2011 when the club rebranded from the Wizards and moved into world-class Children's Mercy Park. The eight-year postseason run under Manager Peter Vermes is the fourth-longest playoff streak in MLS history, underscoring the magnitude of a prosperous period that saw Sporting hoist four major championships.
With the weight off a faltering playoff push off their shoulders, Vermes' men now have the opportunity to embrace a spoiler role against the Timbers, who find themselves square on the playoff bubble heading into the final two games of 2019.
2. Timbers Teetering
In early August, Portland occupied the seventh and final playoff spot in the West and had 10 consecutive home matches in front of them. Fast-forward to present day, and the Timbers haven't exactly cashed in on their extended stay at Providence Park. Giovanni Savarese's side went just 4-4-2 during that stretch and have claimed just two points from their previous four fixtures, all of which took place in Portland.
A few hours after Sporting coughed up a lead in Minnesota on Wednesday night, Portland did the exact same on home turf against the New England Revolution. A second-half brace from Jeremy Ebobisse had given the hosts a 2-0 advantage, but the Revs pulled one back on 87 minutes through Gustavo Bou before Carles Gil leveled terms with a 97th-minute penalty kick.
3. Revenge on Tap?
Portland can clinch a playoff berth on Sunday with a win over Sporting and a loss from either San Jose or FC Dallas. But don't expect Vermes' side to throw in the towel just because their playoff aspirations have been dashed.
The Timbers last visited Children's Mercy Park in the decisive second leg of the 2018 Western Conference Championship. In a five-goal thriller that took place 10 months ago on Sunday, Portland prevailed 3-2 behind playmaking talismans Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco. Sporting were one home win away from an appearance in MLS Cup, but the Timbers emerged victorious to lift the conference crown.
What better way to exorcise some of the demons from last November's loss than by beating Portland and putting a dent in their 2019 playoff hopes?
4. Roster Rotation?
With Sporting out of the playoff race, will Vermes and the technical staff experiment with a new-look lineup on Sunday? We won't know until roughly an hour before kickoff, and because it's been so long since Sporting have been in this situation, the answer is anyone's guess. Will opportunities be afforded to youngsters like Jaylin Lindsey, Felipe Hernandez and Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal? Or will Vermes minimize the shuffling of a side that largely outplayed Minnesota on Wednesday night?
5. Save with the Sporting KC App
Supporters attending Sunday's match will have the opportunity to score and save with the Sporting KC App, available for free download on the App Store and Google Play. On the merchandise side, fans who place SportingStyle mobile orders of $50 or more will receive a free shuttlecock Sporting KC scarf. On the concessions side, fans over 21 will receive a 25-oz. Bud Light with any mobile order purchase of $20 or more.
To access mobile ordering, download the app and click the "Mobile Ordering" module at the top of the screen for either food and beverage or retail. Users can select items and make purchases in the secure online portal.
From there, select your preferred stadium location for pickup. You will be texted when your order is ready for pickup. Upon receiving the confirmation text, skip the lines and head to the specified location to claim your order. It’s that simple.
All SportingStyle mobile orders can be picked up at the SportingStyle Mobile Order tent on the north side of the Toyota Plaza, above section 102.