SPORTING KANSAS CITY AT TIMBERS
When/where: 8 p.m. today at Jeld-Wen Field.
TV: Live on KPTV 12 (HD 712); Estrella TV Spanish broadcast (Comcast cable Channel 307).
Radio: AM 750 (AM 940 Spanish broadcast).
Records: Kansas City is 4-6-4. Portland is 5-7-3. Both teams sit seventh among nine teams in their conference.
Why to watch: To see how much Timbers coach John Spencer shakes up his lineup, and how Portland captain Jack Jewsbury fares against the team he played with for the previous seven seasons.
Forwards: Kenny Cooper, Jorge Perlaza.
Midfielders: Kalif Alhassan, Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara, Darlington Nagbe.
Defenders: Rodney Wallace, Eric Brunner, Mamadou “Futty” Danso, Jeremy Hall.
Goalkeeper: Troy Perkins.
Key alternatives: MF Sal Zizzo, F Eddie Johnson, MF Adam Moffat, MF Ryan Pore, D Kevin Goldthwaite, D Steve Purdy, GK Adin Brown.
Sporting Kansas City
Forwards: C.J. Sapong.
Midfielders: Omar Bravo, Milos Stojcev, Graham Zusi, Julio Cesar, Roger Espinoza.
Defenders: Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Chance Myers.
Goalkeeper: Jimmy Nielsen.
Watch for: Kansas City often crowds midfield with five players. To counter that, Portland will need to win possession battles and stretch KC by involving wing players in its attack.
“As a midfield we need to space ourselves a little bit better, make sure we’re tight in the middle,” Jewsbury said. “A lot of teams come (to Portland) and make it compact, and make it tough to break them down. I know Kansas City’s done that on the road against some other teams.”
Spencer challenged his squad this week by telling the media that competition was open for every spot in the lineup. It was nothing new. Spencer has been saying since his arrival that he and his players must work daily to earn the privilege of representing the Timbers.
“I think the guys reacted well,” the coach said on Friday.
“It sparks the team. We’ve had a great week of training this week,” defender Eric Brunner said. “That’s just the way the professional game is. You never have a guaranteed spot. If someone is pushing you for your spot you have to play a bit better.”
Spencer said he expects a good performance today:
“I don’t know if there’s been a time this year where we’ve played back-to-back poor games. We’ve always had a good reaction from them, and we’re expecting another one.”
The coach never announces his lineup before the MLS-mandated one hour before kickoff, but here’s a guess: Sal Zizzo starts at a wide midfield spot, Steve Purdy returns to right back. A longer shot: Eddie Johnson replaces Kenny Cooper at forward.
• SKC is unbeaten in seven games and has won three of its last four. ... SKC midfielder and captain Davy Arnaud is out with a sports hernia. ... Attacking midfielder Graham Zusi had two goals and three assists in June. ... Forward C.J. Sapong, the 10th pick in the 2011 SuperDraft, has two goals and two assists. ... Omar Bravo, KC designated player, has returned to form after missing two months with a sports hernia.
• Injury report: Timbers — Out: F Bright Dike (Achilles rupture); D David Horst (hip flexor); MF Peter Lowry (quadriceps strain); F Spencer Thompson (knee); Probable: D Mamadou Danso (shoulder); MF Jack Jewsbury (hamstring strain). Sporting KC — Out: F Konrad Warzycha (knee surgery; MF Craig Rocastle (knee sprain); MF Davy Arnaud (sports hernia).
Suspended — None. Suspended next yellow card — Jeremy Hall and Rodney Wallace (Portland).
Tickets: Only 25 tickets remained at mid-day Friday.
Gates open: 90 minutes before kickoff.
Getting there: Parking is extremely limited near the stadium. MAX light rail runs extra trains on match days.
Radio coverage: 750 AM has one-hour pregame and postgame shows.