Preview: Sporting KC and Portland brace for second straight meeting on Sunday

Sporting Kansas City at Portland Timbers
Sunday, Aug. 7 — 3 p.m. CT
Providence Park | Portland, Oregon

Broadcast Schedule:
English TV | ESPN
Spanish TV | ESPN Deportes
English Radio | 99.3 FM
Spanish Radio | 1340 AM

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Just seven days after Sporting Kansas City defeated the Portland Timbers 1-0 at Children's Mercy Park, the Western Conference foes change venues for their second straight regular season meeting. Sunday's game at Providence Park will kick off at 3 p.m. CT, with national television coverage on ESPN and ESPN Deportes and local radio broadcasts on 99.3 FM and 1340 AM. No Other Pub in Kansas City's Power & Light District will host the official watch party for an all-important clash between playoff hopefuls.

Jacob Peterson decided last weekend's contest between the clubs, scoring in the 50th minute to give fourth-place Sporting Kansas City (10-10-4, 34 points) its fifth straight home win. Meanwhile, the seventh-place Timbers (7-8-8, 29 points) took their second straight league defeat and stayed one point below the red line in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. Goalkeeper Alec Kann claimed the first victory and shutout of his MLS career, making a brilliant early save to deny Darlington Nagbe and keep Caleb Porter's side off the scoresheet.

Sporting Kansas City has rebounded from its springtime slump, going 5-2-2 since the start of June. Only New York City FC (18) has more points over its last nine league games than Sporting KC's 17. Peterson has scored in consecutive games for the first time since 2006, while a backline anchored by Ike Opara and Lawrence Olum has helped the club earn two straight shutout wins for the first time all year. Stability in the midfield has seen Benny Feilhaber, Soni Mustivar and Roger Espinoza start each of the last eight MLS matches.

Despite trending upward, Sporting Kansas City is riddled by a nine-game road winless skid in the regular season. The club won its first two away fixtures in shutout fashion but has gone 0-6-3 since then, scoring just four goals during that time.

The Timbers went nine games unbeaten from May 22 through July 17 before recently falling to the LA Galaxy and Sporting Kansas City. Portland nonetheless remains a dangerous outfit, having scored in all 12 home games this season, and boasts a formidable attacking quartet. Target forward Fanendo Adi leads the side with 10 goals, Diego Valeri is the league's top chance creator, Lucas Melano offers pace and creativity out wide and Nagbe has cemented his status as a premier MLS midfielder.

Linchpin center back Nat Borchers suffered a season-ending Achilles injury on July 23, and while his partner Liam Ridgewell is in contention to return from a calf strain on Sunday, Portland has struggled to keep opponents at bay. Goalkeeper Jake Gleeson has delivered several standout performances between the posts, but the Timbers have kept just three clean sheets in 2016.

Recent history in the regular season series favors Sporting Kansas City, who have notched five straight regular season shutouts against the reigning MLS Cup champions. Portland's scoreless drought in the fixture has reached 482 minutes and includes three scoreless efforts at Providence Park. Peter Vermes' men are 3-0-2 during this stretch and will be further encouraged by their impressive record against Cascadia clubs: Sporting KC is 8-0-5 in its last 13 regular season games against Portland, Seattle Sounders FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

Statistical trends may point in favor of the visitors, but Portland continues to own bragging rights as victors of the epic 2015 Western Conference Knockout Round match last October at Providence Park. The sides battled to a 2-2 draw through regulation before the Timbers emerged on top in an 11-round penalty shootout, the longest shootout in MLS postseason history.

Three Sporting Kansas City players will be sidelined Sunday as defender Matt Besler (MCL strain), midfielder Justin Mapp (calf strain) and goalkeeper Tim Melia (back spasm) recover from their respective injuries. Brad Davis (calf strain), Paulo Nagamura (quad strain) and Graham Zusi (hamstring strain) are listed as questionable after missing last weekend's match.

In addition to the live broadcasts available on television and radio, in-game updates of Sunday's match can be found online at SportingKC.com/gameon and through the club’s official mobile app Sporting KC Uphoria.

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