Two teams desperately in need of a win face off Saturday night as Portland Timbers host Sporting KC. The Timbers sit in 10th place in the Western Conference with 12 points and two wins from 11 games. Sporting KC are behind them in 12th place with two wins and nine points from 11 games.
Kickoff from Providence Park in Portland is set for 10 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN+. Both teams have a negative goal differential with the Timbers at -5 and SKC at -8. The teams have evenly split their regular-season MLS games with seven wins each and seven ties. Last year they tied 1-1 in Kansas City and Portland won at home 2-1. If you're looking for a place to make MLS betting picks, check out these top ranked sportsbooks.
The draw value is strong with both of these teams, look for a 1-1 final. Make your picks on this match at a reputable sportsbook such as BetMGM.
Sporting KC enters Saturday’s tilt after a thrilling 4-2 comeback win over FC Dallas in the U.S. Open Cup Fourth Round on Tuesday. Down 2-0 after 60 minutes, SKC tied the game in stoppage time and won with two goals in extra time. Coach Peter Vermes rested most of his regular starters though Remi Walter and Khiry Shelton both came off the bench and had a hand in goals.
Sporting KC averages 11.1 shots per game with 3.5 on target. They hold 52% of the possession, complete 82% of their passes, and earn 3.0 corners per contest. Only Vancouver and Chicago (both 7) have fewer MLS goals than SKC (8) this season and only Vancouver and Inter Miami (both -10) have a worse goal differential than their -8.
In their last MLS game, SKC picked up a point with a 0-0 draw at defending champion NYCFC. Sporting have three straight draws and they haven’t won since a 1-0 victory at home over Real Salt Lake on March 26. They’ve got no road wins in 2022 with five losses and last week’s draw.
Saturday’s the third game in eight days for SKC, so expect some squad rotation. The typical starting lineup in the 4-3-3 features Shelton up top with Daniel Salloi on one wing and captain Johnny Russell on the other. Roger Espinoza and Walter take the attacking midfield roles with Oriol Rosellor and Felipe Hernández as the other center mid.
The defense is keyed by veteran keeper Tim Melia who’s got 21 saves in 11 games with four clean sheets this season. The back four is a makeshift right now with injuries and last weekend Vermes went with Robert Voloder and Kortne Ford in the middle and Cameron Duke and Logan Ndenbe on the outside. Andreu Fontàs started at center back midweek and has eight MLS starts this season while Ben Sweat and Kaveh Rad are also options.
SKC have a ton of injuries as Designated Players Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda have been shut down for the season. Veteran defender midfielder, Graham Zusi, suffered a thigh injury two weeks ago and missed the last two games while center back Nicolas Isimat-Mirin’s got a concussion and broken orbital bone.
The Timbers return home after a three-game road trip that resulted in a loss at Colorado Rapids and a draw at New York Red Bulls in MLS play and a 2-0 loss at LAFC in the U.S. Open Cup. In Tuesday’s loss in LA, the Timbers gave up goals in the 32nd and 54th minute in the 2-0 loss to their Western Conference rivals.
In the last five games, the Timbers are 0-2-3 with just one goal scored. Their last win came in Vancouver on April 9 and their only home win of the season was 1-0 against Austin FC on March 12. Portland averages 12.1 shots per game, with 3.4 being on target. The Timbers hold 49% of the possession in their games with 4.1 corners per contest and an 80% pass completion rate.
Coach Giovanni Savarese will have some choices to make for Saturday and he’s also dealing with players in safety and health protocols. Dairon Asprilla missed the last two games in protocol while goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic plus defenders Claudio Bravo and Jose Van Rankin didn’t play. They did see the return of captain Diego Chara to the lineup while Eryk Williamson’s made three starts since returning from a 2021 ACL injury.
Playing a 4-2-3-1 the last three games, Jaroslaw Niezgoda starts up top and leads the team with three goals. Yimmi Chará also has three goals and leads the team in minutes played while taking one of the attacking roles alongside Cristhian Parades. Santiago Moreno or Blanco will start on one wing and if Asprilla’s back, he’ll take the other with Chará or Williamson starting in center mid.
David Bingham started the last two games with Ivancic out and he allowed one goal to NYRB and two to LAFC. Bill Tuiloma and Larrys Mabiala typically partnered in center defense with Claudio Bravo and Jose Van Rankin on the wings. If the latter two aren’t available this weekend, look for Justin Rasmussen and Zac McGraw to get the nod.
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