Sporting Kansas City returns to Children's Mercy Park to take on the Portland Timbers in a Major League Soccer showdown on Sunday night. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CT with a national broadcast provided by FS1.
Sporting KC faced Portland once this season, suffering a loss at Providence Park on May 14. Sunday will be the 20th regular season meeting between Sporting and Portland. Sunday is a crucial match for Portland as they find themselves in ninth place in the West, even with three clubs on points, but losing the wins tiebreaker. With the MLS season winding down, every point matters in the playoff battles.
Below are five things to know about Sporting Kansas City's match with the Portland Timbers on Sunday, Aug. 21 at Children's Mercy Park.
Over the last two matches, Sporting Kansas City's offense has come to life, scoring seven goals in 180 minutes of soccer. Coming into this weekend's matches, no other MLS club has seven goals in their two most recent matches. In their last two contests, Sporting has scored three goals each of the first halves, something they had never done in club history.
This attacking spark has come from a wide cast of Sporting KC characters. Midfielder Erik Thommy got the party started in style, blasting a volley from inside the 18 past Jonathan Bond, and receiving a nomination for AT&T Goal of the Week. Forward Willy Agada kept it rolling with a pair of first half goals complimented by two memorable celebrations. Forward Daniel Salloi capped off Sporting's 4-2 win over LA with a stoppage-time goal for himself. Against Austin, Andreu Fontas fired home a rebound off a Thommy free kick, Agada followed up a Roger Espinoza shot on target for his third goal and Johnny Russell sank a penalty kick. Sporting's attack has come from all three lines of the field over the last two matches.
Just one loss to Portland at home
The Sporting KC offense has shown out against Portland at home as well. In eight regular season meetings, Sporting is 3-1-4 against the Timbers at Children's Mercy Park with 13 goals scored and just eight conceded. The Timbers' lone win in Kansas City in the regular season came on April 27, 2013, in the form of a 3-2 victory. In the most recent battle between Sporting and Portland in the heartland, the two clubs fought to a grueling 1-1 draw. The Timbers took a first-half lead, scoring in the 17th minute. Salloi would pull the match level 75 minutes late in the second minute of second-half stoppage time. Sporting and Portland have drawn in back-to-back matches at Children's Mercy Park with Sunday presenting the chance to snap the streak.
In just over a decade, Sporting and portland will have faced off 20 times in the regular season, once in the Open Cup and three times in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. Sporting holds the advantage in the regular season, boasting a 7-6-6 record against Portland. The Timbers have had Sporting's number in the playoffs, knocking them out in 2015 after the infamous double post shootout, and again in the 2019 Western Conference Finals.
Sunday is retro night at Children's Mercy Park and a time to celebrate all that Sporting has accomplished Since '96. While Portland has enjoyed a successful run in their 12 MLS seasons, – winning one MLS cup and appearing in another – Sporting has been a perennial powerhouse in the West. Their four domestic trophies since 2012 are tied with Timbers' Cascadia rivals the Seattle Sounders and they are the only club to appear in an Open Cup, MLS Cup and Concacaf Champions League semifinal.
Draws on draws on draws
Portland has been an interesting team this season. A year ago they hosted MLS Cup, suffering a defeat in penalty kicks to NYCFC at Providence Park. They started off 2022 in the middle of the pack before suffering three consecutive defeats in the middle of the season. After that trio of losses, the Timbers went on a hot streak, rattling off 10 straight results before having the streak snapped last week against Toronto. Portland is currently in ninth place, tied on points with four other teams, but rank fourth amongst them in the wins tiebreaker.
The main concern for Portland this season has been their draws. Their 12 draws rank first in the league, two more than any other club. With just eight matches left in the season, if Portland want to earn a spot in the playoffs they will need to turn those draws until wins. Sporting's five draws rank fifth in MLS and they have not drawn at home since April 30, against FC Dallas. Portland comes into Sunday with a road record of 2-5-6.
The Timbers have had success in the offensive third this season thanks to a balanced attack. They have five players with more than five goals and are led by Jaroslaw Niezgoda and his nine goals. Yimmi Chara paces the Timbers with nine assists, closely followed by MLS Veteran Sebastian Blanco at eight assists. The backline has been anchored by goalkeeper Aljaz IIvacic who leads the league with 87 saves.