MLS – Portland Timbers v Sporting Kansas City Preview (7/8/16)

PT-SKC

Portland preview

The Timbers went on an excellent nine game unbeaten run not so long ago, but have come back down to earth due to back to back defeats. An improved defence was one of the main reasons they managed to go nine without a loss, but it’s fragilities were exposed by LA Galaxy (1-2), and then last week the offense misfired against SKC (0-1). They have an immediate chance for revenge such is the quirky nature of MLS fixtures. I think it’s fair to say Portland deserved at least a draw last weekend in what was generally a close, tight game played in hot temperatures. They did at least win in midweek, although only thanks to a late goal in the NACL, a game in which they were strong favourites for. A local news source has claimed they are in a ‘scoring slump’ where chances simply aren't being converted well enough. I think that's a fair point for the last couple of weeks, but in general Portland have been one of the better offensive teams in MLS.

SKC preview

Due to a lot of player absences, perhaps it was a surprise that SKC managed to win last week. In general their home form has been excellent, winning their last five games at Sporting Park, most of them fairly comfortably. It seems they enjoy taking on teams in hot conditions, often getting into an early lead and not letting go. It’s been a different story on the road though where they’ve failed to win any of their last nine games, many of which have resulted in defeats. Sporting haven't been helped by a lot of injuries this season and in recent times key players like Matt Besler (CB), Graham Zusi (AM), plus a few others have all been missing. The fitness levels of most of these guys are once again questionable. Of course, at least they’re used to life without them now but at some stage the coach would dearly love to be able to field his strongest XI.

Conclusion & betting analysis

Portland aren’t without injury concerns either - especially in defence. Old legend Nat Borchers is out for the rest of the season, whilst fullback Zarek Valentin is out with a bone bruise. Key man at the back Liam Ridgewell is rated doubtful here, whilst in defensive midfield Ben Zemanski is a confirmed absentee. Both teams missed a hatful of defensive players last week too, so I was surprised it only finished 1-0. The hot conditions in Kansas City didn’t help matters though, whilst Portland missed good chances to equalise. Usually, Timbers games are a hotbed for overs and both teams scoring. Unless they keep missing chances then I see no reason why this match won't either. The strength of each side is going to be in attack due to defensive absences. I think we’ll see an end to end game, full of opportunities. Over 2.5 is an obvious pick @ a very generous price. I also think Portland are worth backing on a -0.25 handicap. SKC have such a poor away record they’ll probably find a way of losing this one as well.

Recommended bet 1 unit: Portland Timbers -0.25 @ 1.86 (minimum odds acceptable 1.70)
Recommended bet 1 unit: Over 2.5 goals @ 1.89 (minimum odds acceptable 1.65)

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