MLS Preview from The Sports Network (ET)
06/26/2014 3:13 PM
06/26/2014 3:23 PM
Kansas City (6-5-4) at Portland (4-4-8), 11 p.m.
Portland, OR (SportsNetwork.com) - Just four days after meeting in U.S. Open Cup play, the Portland Timbers will tangle with Sporting Kansas City at Providence Park on Friday.
The two sides squared off at Sporting Park on Tuesday with the Timbers claiming a 3-1 victory to advance in the competition.
Sporting was intent on making some noise in the tournament, which the club last won in 2012. But head coach Peter Vermes was left disappointed by the premature exit as he came to rue his side's slack defending on home soil.
"Any time you're in a competition and you get knocked out, it's always disappointing," Vermes said in his post-match press conference. "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.
"It's not going to sit well all season long. Doesn't matter what happens at the end of the season. You just remember that this is one that we let get away, just because of our lack of defending."
The quick turnaround should help Sporting, especially as the club has a chance to return the favor by getting three very valuable points in Portland's home stadium.
But the Timbers will be keyed in for the match as they anticipate a rejuvenated Kansas City side to arrive to Providence Park. It's a scenario that head coach Caleb Porter even planned for.
"You have to figure out what game plan fits your group and fits the opponent you're playing," Porter said. "We knew it would be difficult going on the road and playing against a good team in the heat. We have a quick turnaround, as well - we were thinking a little bit about the next game. We left six guys back home, and now we have them fresh. It's going to make for an interesting second match, seeing how many guys they rotate, what the tactics are, how the teams change."
Portland has been mediocre in league play of late. The club has gone 1-1-1 since going on a six-game unbeaten run, but Tuesday's stout victory over MLS competition should provide the Timbers with an excellent foundation to build upon as they return to league action following the World Cup break.
Sporting, meanwhile, has slipped out of the running for first place in the Eastern Conference. Once boasting a relatively commanding lead, Kansas City has slipped to third place in the East table.
A win against Portland on Friday, however, would catapult Sporting back atop the East where it would sit level with D.C. United on 25 points apiece, at least until United's meeting with Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday.
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