WHEN/WHERE: 1 p.m. Sunday, at Children's Mercy Park
TV/RADIO: Fox; 99.3 FM, KDTD (1340 AM)
ABOUT PORTLAND (7-7-8, 29 points): The defending Major League Soccer Cup champions are one point out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. They have been saddled by an inability to win away from home, posting a 0-4-6 record in 10 road matches this season. The Timbers are playing better as of late, with points in nine of their past 10 matches. The man in the middle — Diego Valeri — keys the Portland attack, and he leads MLS with 70 chances created this season.
ABOUT SPORTING KC (9-10-4, 31 points): The home woes are seemingly a thing of the past for Sporting KC, which has won four straight games at Children's Mercy Park. It has scored at least three goals in three consecutive games inside the venue. The club will be short-handed Sunday, with Matt Besler (knee), Brad Davis (calf), Nuno Coelho (hamstring), Graham Zusi (hamstring), Jacob Peterson (calf), Paulo Nagamura (quadriceps) and Justin Mapp (calf) all unlikely to play.
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BOTTOM LINE: Sporting KC is unbeaten in its last four regular-season matches against Portland, but the Timbers eliminated Sporting KC from the playoffs last October, using a record-setting 11 rounds of penalty kicks. The two teams will meet again next weekend in Portland.
PREDICTION: Sporting KC 2, Portland 1