Sporting Kansas City-Timbers Preview

JORDAN GARRETSON (STATS Writer)
The Associated PressJune 26, 2014

Sporting Kansas City's attempt to follow its MLS Cup win with a U.S. Open Cup was thwarted by the Portland Timbers.

However, Kansas City won't have to wait long to extract some revenge.

Sporting KC travels to Portland on Friday night as each team plays its first league match in more than two weeks due to MLS' World Cup break.

Winner of the 2012 U.S. Open Cup and last year's MLS crown, Sporting KC (6-5-4) advanced to the round of 16 in the domestic cup before being eliminated with a 3-1 home loss to Portland on Tuesday night.

Soony Saad scored Kansas City's goal on a penalty in the 73rd minute, while Gaston Fernandez scored twice for Portland and has six goals in 15 league matches. Will Johnson, who has two penalty-kick goals in league play, also found the back of the net on a penalty.

"Any time you're in a competition and you get knocked out, it's always disappointing," Sporting manager Peter Vermes said. "Always. It doesn't matter what competition you're in, it's extremely disappointing. It's a trophy that we don't have a chance to win now this year."

Vermes was extremely critical of his team's defense. Even though the club used its eighth unique back-line combination this year, left back Seth Sinovic said that didn't justify the performance.

"We've had plenty of experience playing with each other, whether it's practice or on the field," Sinovic told the team's official website. "We should be comfortable with each other by now, so that's no excuse."

Portland (4-4-8) left behind a number of key players in an effort to stay fresh for Friday's match. Diego Valeri, who has two goals, was one of them.

"Now we have those guys fresh," coach Caleb Porter told the team's official website. "It's going to make for an interesting second match, how many guys they rotate and play, how many guys we do, what the tactics are, whether we change our tactics."

The Timbers have won three straight on the road and have lost once in their last nine league matches, scoring at least twice in six straight. They played to a 2-all draw with Dallas on June 11 with Johnson scoring on a penalty. He is scoreless in seven career matches against Kansas City.

Sporting snapped a five-match winless streak with a 2-0 victory at Houston on June 6. Dom Dwyer is tied for the league lead with 11 goals after scoring on a penalty.

Kansas City will still be without starters Graham Zusi and Matt Besler as they remain with the United States national team in Brazil.

The Timbers have won the last two league meetings, including 3-2 at Kansas City in last year's lone matchup on April 27.