Portland Timbers vs. Sporting Kansas City | Audi MLS Cup Playoffs Knockout Round Preview
PORTLAND TIMBERS vs. SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Providence Park, Portland, Ore.
October 29, 2015 (2015 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, Knockout Round)
10 p.m. ET (UniMás in US, TSN in Canada, KMCI-38, ROOT Sports NW)
Perhaps the hottest team in MLS faces one of the league's most consistent clubs when the Portland Timbers host Sporting Kansas City on Thursday night in the Knockout Round of the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs. Portland have won three consecutive games to earn home-field advantage, while Sporting Kansas City needed a second-half game-winner against the LA Galaxy on Sunday just to ensure their fifth consecutive postseason appearance. Both teams will be looking to recapture their playoff form of 2013, when Sporting Kansas City beat the New England Revolution and Houston Dynamo to reach the MLS Cup final, which they hosted and won over Real Salt Lake on penalty kicks. Portland beat rivals Seattle Sounders that year but fell to RSL in the Western Conference Championship. This is only Portland's second trip to the MLS Cup Playoffs in their five-year history, while Kansas City are making their 14th appearance in 20 seasons.
REFEREE: Armando Villarreal
AR1 (bench): Peter Manikowski; AR2 (opposite): Corey Parker; 4th: Allen Chapman
ALL-TIME MLS HEAD-TO-HEAD: POR 2 wins, 6 goals … KC 4 wins, 9 goals … Ties 2
2015 MLS HEAD-TO-HEAD: POR 0 wins, 0 GF … KC 1 win, 1 GF … 2 ties
2015 AT PROVIDENCE PARK:
9/9: POR 0, KC 0
10/3: POR 0, KC 1 (Németh 83)
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: First meeting.
- During a nine-game stretch (3-3-3) from Aug. 2-Oct. 3, the Timbers managed only seven goals and were teetering on missing out on the playoffs. They turned it around in impressive fashion in their final three games, scoring an imposing 10 goals during their winning streak to end the regular season. The club’s high-flying tempo is reminiscent of the 2013 team that made it to the Western Conference final and notched the third highest goal total that year with 54.
- Sporting Kansas City advanced to their fourth straight postseason and will be looking for their second MLS Cup championship in three seasons (2013). SKC enter the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs on the heels of capturing the 2015 US Open Cup title in a penalty shootout victory over the Philadelphia Union on Sept. 30.
- Portland Timbers attacker Darlington Nagbe enters the postseason as one of the hottest players in MLS, having notched three goals and an assist in his past two matches. Nagbe will be given the space to attack thanks to the services of midfielder Diego Chara and forward Fanendo Adi, who scored 16 goals this season.
- Goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey has had an impressive first season with Portland, tying for the MLS lead in shutouts with the Vancouver Whitecaps' David Ousted (13).
- Sporting KC midfielder and MLS MVP candidate Benny Feilhaber had a standout 2015 season in which he posted career highs in goals scored (10) and assists (15).
- Since joining the league in 2014, forward Dom Dwyer has scored 34 goals, third most in MLS behind LA Galaxy’s Robbie Keane (39) and the New York Red Bulls' Bradley Wright-Phillips (44).
- The chemistry between Feilhaber and Dwyer will pose problems for Portland’s back line. Feilhaber assisted five of Dwyer’s goals this season — the second-most among teammates behind Kei Kamara and Ethan Finlay — including the game-winner against the LA Galaxy on Sunday.
Timbers prepared for "conservative, organized" KC approach (10/29)
Sporting KC identify Nagbe as Portland's danger man (10/29)
Nagbe boosting Portland's climb back to playoffs (10/28)
KC trio are plenty familiar with postseason play (10/28)