Competition: MLS Western Conference Final 1st Leg Date: Monday 26th November Venue: Providence Park Kick-Off: 00:30 GMT
The Western Conference of MLS will draw to a close in the coming weeks, with the Portland Timbers and Sporting Kansas City clashing to decide who will travel to compete in the MLS Cup final – which will be held in either Atlanta or New York.
Portland enter this weekend’s matchup on the back of an epic triumph over Cascadia rivals Seattle prior to the international break, emerging victorious after a 4-4 thriller on aggregate. Having finished fifth in the regular season, five points behind the Sounders, it was a result that raised some eyebrows – especially as the second leg took place in Seattle.
Meanwhile, Kansas City have been the best side throughout the Western Conference this season but did not endure a comfortable time in their semi-final clash with Real Salt Lake, eventually securing a 5-3 aggregate win.
Kansas have the advantage after two regular-season matchups earlier in the year, where Portland failed to score in either game but did hold Kansas City to a goalless draw at Providence Park.
One To Watch: Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)
The 32-year-old Argentine has come to life in the playoffs, creating 10 chances in the postseason – with no other player creating more than six in this period. That shows Diego Valeri’s effectiveness for Portland and the experienced midfielder could be decisive over the two legs.
This season, Valeri boasts 12 goals and 12 assists from 35 MLS appearances, which includes two goals and two assists from three postseason matches. Overall, he has been directly involved in six goals in his last five appearances (two goals, four assists).
History & Stats
- The two teams have met in the postseason before, with the Timbers winning in the 2015 knockout round after a 2-2 draw.
- Sporting have won four times in nine visits to tackle Portland in Providence Park, where the two teams have drawn twice.
- Since rebranding in 2011, Sporting have won one and lost one in the Western Conference finals.
- Portland have also won one and lost one Western Conference final clash, with their defeat coming to Real Salt Lake in 2013 – when Sporting won the MLS Cup.