A large and zealous Portland Timbers fanbase has been treated to plenty of success during the club's eight-year stint in Major League Soccer. Spearheaded by an amorous and impassioned Timbers Army supporters group, Portland has leveraged one of the league's best home atmospheres into a 2015 MLS Cup and three playoff appearances.
Historic Providence Park has been hailed a fortress in MLS circles, and fairly so. Since 2014, the Timbers have won nearly 70 percent of their regular season matches at the venue and suffered just 11 defeats in 74 games.
But — and yes, there's a big "but" in the room — one bogie team has proven to be a proverbial thorn in Portland's side during their visits to Providence Park. And that team, without any shred of a doubt, is Sporting KC.
Saturday's scoreless draw between Portland and Sporting KC continued a remarkable trend in which Manager Peter Vermes' men have successfully stifled the Timbers on their home turf. The tables below tell you everything you need to know, but to summarize:
- Sporting KC have earned shutouts in five of their last six regular season visits to Providence Park.
- Since September 2015, Portland has failed to score in five regular season home games. Four of those have come against Sporting KC, including each of the last three.
- Since the start of 2014, Portland has averaged more than two goals per regular season home against opponents not named Sporting KC. That number falls to 0.5 goals per game against Vermes' side.
SPORTING KC'S LAST SIX VISITS TO PORTLAND TIMBERS
(MLS REGULAR SEASON)
|06/27/2014||W 1-0||Lawrence Olum bags game-winner in first half|
|09/09/2015||T 0-0||Tim Melia sets then career-high with seven saves|
|10/03/2015||W 1-0||Melia saves six as Krisztian Nemeth nets Goal of the Year winner|
|08/07/2016||L 0-3||Diego Valeri, Jack Jewsbury and Fanendi Adi score in 2nd half|
|04/15/2017||W 1-0||Jimmy Medranda assists Dom Dwyer header|
|06/06/2018||T 0-0||Melia makes four saves|
If any one player has been most responsible for Portland's home struggles against Sporting KC, it's probably goalkeeper Tim Melia. The 32-year-old veteran has yet to allow a goal in 360 minutes of regular season action at Providence Park, totaling 20 saves across those four games.
The only match in the table above that saw goals from the home side was a 3-0 Timbers victory in August 2016. Sporting KC's Alec Kann stood between the posts in that game, conceding three second-half strikes after both sides had a player sent off before halftime.
Transitioning to the table immediately below, Sporting KC has made a habit of snapping Portland's home scoring streaks. In last season's 1-0 road win, the club ended Portland's run of 21 home games with at least one goal. On Saturday night, Sporting KC ousted a similar run of 18 games.
LAST FIVE TIMES PORTLAND HAS FAILED TO SCORE AT HOME
(MLS REGULAR SEASON)
|Date||Opponent||Result||Home scoring streak ended|
|09/09/2015||Sporting KC||T 0-0||8 games|
|09/20/2015||New York Red Bulls||L 0-2||0 games|
|10/03/2015||Sporting KC||L 0-1||0 games|
|04/15/2017||Sporting KC||L 0-1||21 games|
|06/09/2018||Sporting KC||T 0-0||18 games|
PORTLAND AT HOME: SPORTING KC vs. REST OF MLS
(MLS REGULAR SEASON SINCE 2014)
|Stat||vs. Sporting KC||vs. Rest of MLS|
|Goals per game||0.50||2.01|
|Failed to score||5 times||5 times|
And while Melia was unquestionably solid on Saturday — he made four saves en route to his seventh shutout in 11 games — a stout performance from Sporting KC's back four was instrumental in extending the club's unbeaten run to seven games in all competitions.
With that said, let's begin with Sporting KC's record-breaking captain. Center back Matt Besler was forced to exit at halftime with a thigh ailment, but not before becoming the all-time leader with his 241st regular season appearance for the club.
MOST APPEARANCES FOR SPORTING KC
(ALL-TIME, MLS REGULAR SEASON)
|6||Preki||218||1996-2000 & 2002-2005|
|7||Roger Espinoza||205||2008-2012 & 2015-present|
Besler's accomplishment is a stark contrast to the milestones achieved by 18-year-old fullback Jaylin Lindsey and 19-year-old midfielder Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal. The Sporting KC Academy products became the second and sixth-youngest Sporting KC players to start a regular season match, respectively.
SPORTING KC'S YOUNGEST STARTERS
(ALL-TIME, MLS REGULAR SEASON)
|1||Erik Palmer-Brown||17 years, 24 days||05/18/2014||L 1-2 at Chicago Fire|
|2||Jaylin Lindsey||18 years, 74 days||06/09/2018||T 0-0 at Portland Timbers|
|3||Yura Movsisyan||18 years, 357 days||06/28/2006||L 2-3 vs. D.C. United|
|4||Jose Burciaga Jr.||19 years, 184 days||05/19/2001||L 0-2 at Chicago Fire|
|5||Igor Juliao||19 years, 264 days||05/14/2018||L 1-2 vs. Philadelphia Union|
|6||Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal||19 years, 268 days||06/09/2018||T 0-0 at Portland Timbers|
|7||Soony Saad||19 years, 308 days||06/20/2012||T 1-1 at Seattle Sounders FC|
With a two-game road trip in the rearview mirror, Sporting KC will return to Children’s Mercy Park next Saturday to continue their defense of the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The reigning champions are set to face FC Dallas in the Round of 16 at 8 p.m. CT in a rematch of last season’s epic Open Cup quarterfinal that saw Sporting KC endure most of regulation down a man before scoring three extra-time goals en route to an emotional 3-0 home victory. Tickets for the matchup are included in Sporting KC Season Ticket Member packages and available via SeatGeek.com.