Major League Soccer

Timbers-Sporting Kansas City Preview

The Portland Timbers' inability to completely take advantage of their lengthy run of home matches has them still looking to secure a playoff spot.

It's possible the Timbers could clinch a place in the postseason Sunday night, when they try to snap a four-match winless stretch in a road game versus Sporting Kansas City.

Due to renovations of its home pitch at Providence Park, Portland (13-13-6) played the first 12 games of the season on the road. That also meant the Timbers would play 10 straight home matches from Aug. 10 through Wednesday night. However, Portland went a modest 4-4-2 during that run, including 0-2-2 in the last four.

That currently leaves the Timbers sixth in the Western Conference, tied on 45 points with seventh-place FC Dallas. They do hold the tiebreaker over FCD, at the moment. Portland could punch its playoff ticket this weekend with a victory and a Dallas loss, or a victory coupled with San Jose falling to Seattle.

"It's to continue to fight forward," manager Giovanni Savarese told the Timbers' official website.

"It's only about us to push forward and continue to fight."

Portland was left frustrated from Wednesday's 2-2 home draw with New England. Jeremy Ebobisse scored in the 49th minute and again in the 81st. However, the hosts conceded a goal in the 87th and the Revolution were awarded a penalty kick in the eighth-minute of second-half stoppage time that Carles Gil converted for the stunning equalizer. The Timbers also felt Ebobisse was illegally pulled down in the box earlier in the match, when no foul was called.

"Definitely disappointed," said Ebobisse, who is tied with Brian Fernandez for the team lead with 11 league goals.

"I think we have to remain hopeful. We'll take the good things out of it and fix the lapses that we had, and take it forward because we control our own destiny. We're in a good spot moving forward still."

The Timbers, who last played a road game on Aug. 4 at Minnesota United FC, recorded their most recent victory on Sept. 7, 2-1 over Sporting Kansas City. Benny Feilhaber put SKC up 1-0 with a 65th-minute goal, but the Timbers responded through Ebobisse in the 83rd and Fernandez's winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

With its run of eight consecutive seasons in the playoffs officially done, Sporting (10-15-7) looks to avoid its season-high losing streak from reaching five games after conceding a 90-minute score in a 2-1 loss at Minnesota United FC on Wednesday.

"It's a failure. It's a complete disappointment," coach Peter Vermes told Sporting's official website of missing the playoffs. "It's not a place that we ever want to be, and all of us have a lot of assessing to do, a lot of evaluation, and a lot of different things.

"We've still got two games left, so we'll deal with the rest of the stuff when the season's over."

Felipe Gutierrez leads Kansas City with 12 goals in MLS play, but he's managed just two over his last eight contests.

Updated September 27, 2019

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