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Preview: Sporting KC Hosts Portland on Sunday

April 5, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
Sporting Kansas City News Release

Sporting Kansas City will kick off a highly anticipated, three-match homestand this Sunday when the club takes on the Portland Timbers. The Western Conference clash will kick off at 12:55 p.m. CT at Children's Mercy Park and tickets are available online at SeatGeek, including the Coca-Cola Friends & Family 4-Pack and the Wild West 5-Pack.

The MLS Matchday 8 finale will be free to watch on MLS Season Pass via Apple TV in addition to national television broadcasts on FOX and FOX Deportes as well as local radio coverage on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM. Pub partners in the Sporting Pub Network will also show all of the action, including a watch party at No Other Pub in the Kansas City Power and Light District.

Sporting Kansas City enters Sunday's showdown coming off an impressive 3-1 road win at Toronto FC last weekend in which 22-year-old Jake Davis and 20-year-old Alenis Vargas each scored their first MLS goals after Frenchman Remi Walter opened the scoring with his team-leading second goal of the season. Sporting's defense held the hosts to just two shots on goal and SKC has now trailed for only 17 out of 540 minutes this season.

Conversely, the Portland Timbers have suffered a string of three straight losses - after opening the season unbeaten in their first three games (2-0-1) - and are amidst a stretch of their schedule with five of six matches away from home. Most recently, the Timbers fell 3-2 in Vancouver last week - conceding in the 87th minute after clawing back from a 2-0 halftime deficit.

Acquired on a club-record transfer fee, Evander contributed to both goals - scoring the first and assisting on the second -- and the Brazilian playmaker is one of three Portland players with four goal contributions this season along with Antony (three goals, one assist) and Santiago Moreno (one goal, three assists).

Led by head coach Phil Neville in his first year at the club, the Timbers added three key contributors in the offseason after missing the playoffs each of the past two campaigns. Portland's defense is bolstered by the arrival of two Canadian internationals in goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau and centerback Kamal Miller while the club's attack added Uruguayan forward Jonathan Rodriguez in a transfer from Club America.

In between the two lines is MLS All-Star and MLS Best XI selection Diego Chara, who turned 38 on Friday. The midfielder has been with Portland for all 14 of the club's MLS campaigns since 2011 and his 373 regular season appearances for the Timbers are second most by an MLS player with a single club in league history behind Chris Wondolowski's 376 appearances with San Jose).

Sporting Kansas City is unbeaten in eight straight regular season home matches versus Portland (4-0-4) and owns a 5-1-4 record all-time at Children's Mercy Park in the regular season series, including 4-1 victories in 2022 and 2023. Nigerian forward Willy Agada, who has scored or assisted in each of Sporting's last two matches, scored twice in the August 2022 triumph and now has 10 goals in 10 career regular season starts at Children's Mercy Park. Notably, German midfielder Erik Thommy has scored in each of this two home appearances against Portland highlighted by a golazo in May 2023 that garnered Sporting Kansas City's Goal of the Year last season.

Both sides have experienced lofty championship highs in the previous dozen seasons, with Sporting capturing four major titles since 2012 and Portland making three MLS Cup appearances in the last eight years to go along with an MLS is Back Tournament title in 2020. MLS Cup 2023 referee Armando Villarreal will be the match official for Sunday's matinee, the first of three straight home matches for Sporting Kansas City ahead of visits by Inter Miami CF (April 13) and St. Louis CITY SC (April 20).

Sporting Kansas City is owned by Sporting Club, an entity comprised of local business and community leaders. Sporting prides itself on a commitment and vision to provide high-performance experiences. Sporting Club purchased the team from the Hunt Sports Group in 2006, and under its direction has launched Swope Soccer Village, Children's Mercy Park, Compass Minerals Sporting Fields, Compass Minerals National Performance Center and Central Bank Sporting Complex while investing in the Sporting KC Academy and Sporting Kansas City II for developing local youth into homegrown talent. A charter member of Major League Soccer, Sporting are two-time MLS Cup champions (2000, 2013) and four-time winners of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (2004, 2012, 2015, 2017).

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