Sporting Kansas City-Timbers Preview
Sporting Kansas City has been unbeatable thus far, and its next
opponent isn’t putting much fear into anyone.
Playing its second match of the week, Sporting KC looks to
extend its season-opening winning streak to eight when it visits
the last-place Portland Timbers on Saturday night.
Kansas City is off to the best start by an MLS team since the
1996 Los Angeles Galaxy won their first eight games in regulation,
and their first 12 overall.
Led by an outstanding defense and goaltending from Jimmy
Nielsen, Sporting also showed some offensive power in a 3-1 victory
at Vancouver on Wednesday.
“I don’t have any doubt that they’re the best team in MLS right
now,” Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie said. “I think that would be
very hard to argue.”
Aurelien Collin and Kei Kamara scored while Martin Bonjour was
charged with an own goal in the 51st minute. Kamara’s goal in the
65th minute was his team-leading fourth of the season and second in
“At the end of the day, I think our players have approached this
fantastically,” coach Peter Vermes said. “I think they’ve stayed
extremely humbled, extremely focused, not getting ahead of
themselves, and they’ve gone out and performed an executed. When
you do that, you give yourself a chance.”
One of the things Kansas City wasn’t happy with was the pressure
Nielsen faced. He came in having recorded three consecutive
shutouts, needing to make only one save during the stretch, but he
faced seven shots on goal from Vancouver.
Nielsen has been critical to Sporting’s hot start. The club
struggled at the beginning of last season and didn’t earn its
seventh victory until Aug. 3, while Nielsen allowed 14 goals in his
first seven starts.
As Sporting makes a quick turnaround in its second road game of
the week, Portland (1-4-1) will look to snap a franchise-worst
four-game losing streak.
The Timbers have gone five games without a win since a
season-opening 3-1 victory over Philadelphia on March 12. They’ve
given up eight goals in the last three, losing 3-1 at Los Angeles
Portland struck first but had a season-low eight shots. It gave
up the go-ahead score in the 83rd minute and another in stoppage
“We can point to a decision going our way or not going our way
and that could change the game,” coach John Spencer, who shook up
his lines, told the Timbers’ official website. “And right now,
we’re just not getting any breaks.”
Troy Perkins has started all six games, but the play in front of
him isn’t helping. The Galaxy put nine shots on goal, the most he’s
faced this season, and Perkins has made 20 saves – only three off
the lead in MLS.
“We can’t come into the locker room and say ‘Oh we should have
done that, we should have done that,'” he said. “Cause it’s over
with. You can’t change any of it. That’s the thing we’ve been
preaching all week, is show it on the field.”
Portland was outscored 5-2 in losing both games against Sporting