Preview: Sporting KC vs. Portland Timbers
By Sporting KC
Sporting Kansas City returns to Sporting Park after back-to-back road contests for the first match in a three-game homestand that begins with the Portland Timbers on Saturday. The match will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. CT and will be broadcast live on KSMO-TV with coverage starting at 6 p.m. CT. The game will also air live on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and La Gran D 1340 AM (Spanish).
Saturday's match marks the lone meeting between the two clubs during the 2013 regular season and the fourth overall match-up since Portland joined Major League Soccer as an expansion side in 2011. Sporting KC is 2-1-0 against the Timbers all-time, including a 3-1 victory in the only previous meeting at Sporting Park. Graham Zusi earned a brace in the first half of the contest and Soony Saad added a third tally in the 73rd minute.
The Portland Timbers enter Saturday's match in the midst of a five-game undefeated streak, including three straight draws on the road. Portland is the only club in MLS without a loss away from home to date this season. Conversely, Sporting Kansas City is undefeated at Sporting Park during the 2013 MLS regular season.
The Timbers currently boast a 312-minute shutout streak, second in the League this season behind only Sporting Kansas City's 545-minute streak which ceased in the 27th minute of last weekend's 2-0 loss to the LA Galaxy at The Home Depot Center.
Sporting KC has conceded five goals this season, fewest in the League behind the LA Galaxy and none when owning the home field advantage. Sporting KC and the Portland Timbers are both among League leaders in fewest shots against with 68 and 69 respectively.
With a shutout on Saturday, Jimmy Nielsen would surpass Tony Meola for most shutouts in club history with 38. A Sporting Kansas City victory against the Timbers would mark Manager Peter Vermes 50th win while leading the club.
Portland's first-year head coach Caleb Porter makes his first appearance at Sporting Park while former KC midfielder Jack Jewsbury returns to Kansas City for the second time wearing a Portland uniform. Michael Harrington makes his first trip to Kansas City since he was traded to Portland during the offseason. Both players have started the last five matches as outside backs for Portland.
Saturday's match will debut several new features at Sporting Park. The Boulevard Members Club will be releasing five new menu items from local eatery Grinders that will be available for purchase. Additionally, the Boulevard Brewing Company will be launching KC Pils, formerly Boulevard Pilsner, at the match on Saturday and the beverage will be available for $3 prior to kickoff. The Boulevard Members Club opens at 5:30 p.m. CT to all Members Stand ticket holders and opens to all ticket holders following the match.
The Budweiser Beer Garden will also be available to supporters on Saturday, providing an all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink VIP hospitality experience on the Sprint Plaza from two hours before kickoff up until 15 minutes prior to first kick. Tickets can be purchased for $25 online at SportingKC.com/tickets or at the Sporting Park Box Offices on the day of game while supplies last.