MLS

Portland Timbers v Sporting Kansas City: Neville urges Timbers to be 'ruthless'

By Sports Desk May 24, 2024

Phil Neville has called for Portland Timbers to be more "ruthless" as they aim to get back to winning ways against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.

The Timbers sit 11th in the Western Conference having won just one of their last 11 matches, though their 4-2 comeback win against 10-man San Jose Earthquakes did come in their last home outing.

Despite their poor run of form, Neville is pleased with what he has seen from his side in recent weeks.

"We do feel as if we're heading in the right direction. There are signs," he said.

"Now it's about us picking up points and making sure we stay in the pack and be more ruthless with what we're doing. It's time that we've got to go out there and deliver."

Kansas City are three points behind Saturday’s opponents in 13th, having failed to win any of their last seven matches.

After a U.S. Open Cup win over FC Tulsa on Wednesday though, midfielder Erik Thommy believes Kansas City can start to build some momentum.

"It's the perfect time for us to turn the season around. We've got to start to collect the points as soon as possible," Thommy said.

"We need the right players on the pitch and look forward while looking at what made us strong in the past. We need to believe in ourselves and trust in yourself and the club. We have to take all of these positive things [from recent matches] into the next game."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Portland – Maxime Crepeau

Portland’s 2-1 defeat to Minnesota marked the 10th straight regular-season match in which they have conceded multiple goals, the longest streak in MLS history. The Timbers have not kept a clean sheet in their last 20 regular-season games dating back to last September, and Crepeau will be hoping to change that.

Kansas City – Johnny Russell

Russell scored his 57th regular-season goal for Kansas City on Saturday, equaling Dom Dwyer for second in the club’s history. Only Preki (71) has scored more goals for Kansas City in regular-season MLS play.

MATCH PREDICTION: PORTLAND TIMBERS WIN

The Timbers have won four straight home matches against Kansas City dating back to 2019. Prior to 2019, Portland had managed just two wins in 10 all-time meetings with SKC at Providence Park (D4 L4).

However, the Timbers have won only one of their last 11 matches (D3 L7) following a 2-1 loss at Minnesota on Saturday. Only CF Montreal (five) have collected fewer points than Portland (six) since this run began in mid-March.

Kansas City are winless in seven straight MLS matches including losing the last four in a row. It has been 13 years since Sporting lost five straight MLS matches, last doing so in April-May 2011.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Portland – 40.3%

Draw – 24.8%

Kansas City – 34.9%

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