Portland, OR – On paper, there is not a more mismatched Major League Soccer contest slated for this weekend than Sporting Kansas City's tilt with the Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field on Saturday.
The two sides are heading in opposite directions in a hurry as Sporting has started the campaign with a perfect 7-0-0 record and Portland has lost four straight.
The Timbers took the initial lead but conceded three unanswered goals in their last outing, a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy at The Home Depot Center.
"I think I still believe that we have quality, and we have quality to win the games," said Timbers head coach John Spencer. "For me confidence is obviously a big factor when you have a losing streak and it's the same the other way when you go on a winning streak and you feel unbeatable. I think we performed at times, played some real good football and it's unfortunate with a 3-1 scoreline against."
Despite the poor team performances of late, Kris Boyd continued to impress as the Scot notched his third MLS goal of the season in the match against the Galaxy.
"I go into every game looking to score a goal," said Boyd. "Our possession is key. The Galaxy are one of the better clubs in America but no different than any other team. Like I said before the most important thing is to get the three points and we're disappointed not to get that."
Portland has been left reeling by its four straight losses, but the coaching staff will not let the team feel sorry for themselves.
"Losing can become a habit as well as winning," Spencer said. "The easiest thing for us to do right now as a coaching staff and as a playing staff is feel sorry for yourself. Odds are they're going to put it right. And you've got to try to pick them up for the game."
That may prove to be a tough task with Sporting Kansas City next on the docket. Sporting has proved that it can win in the Pacific Northwest as it claimed a 3-1 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC in its last match.
"One of the biggest things was we were starting to get tired at the end due to the travel and the short turnaround from our Saturday game," said Sporting head coach Peter Vermes. "The good thing was that lately we've been in the environment where we've been up and teams have thrown a lot at us and [Wednesday vs. Vancouver] we handled this situation really well."
Another match on short rest, paired with Sporting's reliance on goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen against the Whitecaps, indicates that Saturday's clash at Jeld- Wen could be a potential trap game for Kansas City.