Can Sporting KC defeat Portland?

Sporting Kansas City goes into this weekend in a bit of a rough patch to start the season. They drew the New York Red Bulls 1-1 after the Red Bulls scored to equalize three minutes after SKC scored. Then Sporting was on the unfortumate end of an egregious offside call in a 3-1 pounding by FC Dallas, currently the only team to win their first two games.

Now this weekend, Sporting KC, who is last in the Western Conference, comes back to Sporting Park to face the Portland Timbers in what could be called the first ever “Besler Derby.” Matt Besler and his younger brother Nick will oppose each other for the first time. It remains to be seen if the two will actually face each other on the field. Matt is getting off his red card suspension from the Red Bull game and is most likely starting. Nick, on the other hand, is a rookie and hasn’t seen any game time in the two Timbers games against Real Salt Lake and the LA Galaxy.

In terms of projecting the lineup, it’s really anybody’s guess. It used to be that Peter Vermes was as predictable with his lineup as a ref making a bad call. Now, he has made small tweaks with his lineups now that he has a few positions with depth and players who can play multiple positions.

One of the few certainties is that Luis Marin is going to be goalkeeper. The back four will likely consist of Seth Sinovic, Matt Belser, Ike Opara and Amadou Dia. Nigel de Jong has been trading the left back position with Sinovic so de Jong could be there as well but with him going to play for Canada, I’m going with Sinovic for this game so he doesn’t get too rusty for when he has to play in NYC next week.

Midfield is going to have Roger Espinoza and Benny Feilhaber. The third midfielder will either consist of Paulo Nagamura or Krisztian Nemeth. If Nagamura starts, Nemeth will go out on the wing. If Nemeth plays in midfield, Nagamura will start on the bench and Bernardo Anor will start at left wing. Graham Zusi will be on the right and Dom Dwyer will start as striker.

As far as a prediction goes, this is going to be a very close game. In this series, the away team has won the last three games and it has been since 2012 where the home team won. Both teams seem to be really equal at this point but I can see Sporting pulling out a narrow, low scoring win. Sporting has to get a win some time, why not this weekend?

(image courtesy of

About Phillip Bupp

Managing editor for 32 Flags, Contributor for Awful Announcing, Highlights Editor for MLS and freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them. Be sure to follow @phillipbupp, @32flags as well as @MLSTitleBelt, a project where the title holder must defend the title in every MLS game.