WHEN/WHERE: 9:30 p.m. Saturday at Providence Park in Portland, Ore.
TV/RADIO: KMCI (Ch. 38); WHB (810 AM), KDTD (1340 AM)
ABOUT SPORTING KC (12-9-9, 45 points): Three days after winning the U.S. Open Cup championship, Sporting KC returns to MLS action, where it's fifth in the Western Conference standings. The club will be shorthanded in the midfield, with Paulo Nagamura suspended (yellow card accumulation) and Soni Mustivar injured (hip pointer). ... In three trips to the Pacific Northwest this season, Sporting KC is yet to allow a goal.
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ABOUT PORTLAND (12-10-8, 44 points): The Timbers have won only once over their previous five matches, but they remain stout defensively — especially at home, where they have allowed only 11 goals in 15 matches. The offense, on the other hand, is only 19th in MLS with 1.03 goals per match. Fanendo Adi leads the Timbers with 12 goals, but no other player has scored more than three.
BOTTOM LINE: It could certainly be a match in which the first team to score wins. The two clubs have produced two scoreless draws this season — on March 21 at Sporting Park and Sept. 9 at Provident Park. Portland has not lost this season when scoring the first goal of a match, and it has not won when giving up the first goal.
PREDICTION: Portland 1, Sporting KC 0