Nat Borchers and Caleb Porter at Sporting Park
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#PORvSKC: Caleb Porter expects "really tight, physical, intense game" in Knockout Round

The stage is set for the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs, which begin today with back-to-back nights of single-elimination Knockout Round doubleheaders. When the opening act ends, Thursday's winner between Sporting Kansas City and the Portland Timbers will be the eighth and final team to book a berth in the conference semifinals on the road to MLS Cup.

Sporting Kansas City's path starts on the artificial surface at Providence Park, where the Timbers have sold out 85 straight matches. Fanendo Adi and Darlington Nagbe are in the headlines for Portland after combining for seven goals and an assist in the team's past three games, however it was two different individuals that met with local media on Tuesday to discuss the match-up.

Head coach Caleb Porter led the Timbers to 15 wins in the regular season, an MLS record for the club thanks to victories in each of their final three fixtures. The success was due in large part to a defense that posted a league-high 13 shutouts with veteran centerback Nat Borchers -- whose 318 career starts are sixth most by a field player in MLS history -- anchoring the backline.

Read their comments below and tune into UniMas tonight for #DCvNE (6:30 p.m. CT) followed by #SEAvLA (9 p.m. CT).

Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter

Comments on the match-up...
Playing KC won’t be easy. They’re a good team and they’ve matched up well against us. We felt like we deserved more out of the last two games (against them). They got a draw against us where we created a lot of chances (but) just didn’t finish. And then the last game, we had good chances and good play and then we gave up the one goal. It was probably one of the very few chances they had on the day. Credit to them, they’ve been able to get points; four points in the last two games. But I think if we play similar, but finish our chances, we’ll be in good shape. It will certainly be a difficult game.

Comments on Sporting KC...
They’re a good team. They’re organized. They have an experienced group. They’ve won trophies for a reason. They won MLS Cup two years ago. They won the Open Cup this year...KC is one of the best teams even though they finished sixth.

Comments on what he expects Thursday...
I know (we'll) be up for this next game. But I know KC will be also. They’ve got some really experienced guys on that team. It’s going to make for a dogfight, no doubt about it. It’s going to make for a really tight, physical, intense game.

Portland Timbers defender Nat Borchers

Comments on the match-up...
I think we like the matchup against them. We obviously haven’t been able to score on them. They’ve done a great job defending us. I think we’re excited about the challenge because obviously we haven’t been able to beat them this season and the last game we played against them, they beat us at home. So I think we’re really up for it.

Comments on the midfield battle...
We both match-up well against each other.  In their midfield, they’ve done a great job with Nagamura, Mustivar and Feilhaber keeping possession and winning possession (on) a lot of second balls. I think they do a good job of controlling the tempos of games. That’s what we’re trying to do with our midfield, as well.

Comments on the team's momentum...
I definitely think that we’ve been in playoff mode for the last 3-4 games. Our backs have been against the wall, for sure. We’ve been in a lot of pressure situations where we’ve had to get results and we’ve come through. So I think that’s a good practice for us coming into the postseason. Right now it’s one and done. I think we’re ready for it. 

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