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Craig Mitchelldyer/Portland Timbers

A short week after the most disappointing night of their season, the Portland Timbers — or what remains of them — are back in action this Saturday night at Sporting Kansas City (7:00 pm, TV on ESPN).

It's promising to be a hellish trip. As they prepare to face the class of the Western Conference, Portland is down Diego Chara, David Guzman, Liam Ridgewell, Amobi Okugo, and potentially Darlington Nagbe. If ever there was the time for a stunning Timbers win to rival the 5-2 triumph in LA two years ago, this would be it.

The History

When these two clubs met in mid-April at Providence Park — with both teams at full strength — Kansas City rode an early-second half Dom Dwyer goal a statement 1-0 win. That game is the only time the Timbers have either lost or been shutout at home this season.

Sporting also won the last meeting between these two teams in Kansas by a 1-0 score, with now-Atlanta winger Jacob Peterson serving as the match-winner.

That game was the first the Timbers played after Nat Borchers' tore his Achilles, and it began a seven-game road losing streak to finish last season. The Timbers' center backs on that day? Okugo and Jermaine Taylor.

Sporting played a first-choice and got an impressive win in the U.S. Open Cup at Houston on Wednesday night. That clean sheet was the club's eleventh of the season across all competitions. They have, incredibly, conceded just twelve goals in their first MLS games.

The Tactics

The good news as far as the Timbers are concerned is that Sporting is going to be significantly shorthanded as well. Peter Vermes has lost stalwarts Matt Besler, Graham Zusi, and Dwyer to U.S. national team duty ahead of the Gold Cup, while Benny Feilhaber was on the end of a horrific tackle in LA last weekend and is likely out as well.

The difference is that the players Sporting has ready to step into its lineup — the likes of Kevin Ellis, Saad Abdul-Salaam, and Latif Blessing — are all known, proven quantities.

The Timbers are in worse shape. In Ben Zemanski and Zarek Valentin (!) they're down to what amounts their sixth and seventh choice central midfielders with Chara, Guzman, Okugo, Nagbe, and Olum all out, likely out, or, in Olum's case, pressed into duty at center back.

Liam Ridgewell was supposed to be back for this game, but he suffered a setback in his rehab and is now not scheduled to return to action until after the Gold Cup break in the middle of this month. Roy Miller will return from suspension to parter Olum — making his return to KC — in central defense.

The Timbers will also be getting Sebastian Blanco back from suspension, and he'll slide into Nagbe's spot if Nagbe can't go, with Dairon Asprilla continuing on the right wing. If Nagbe can play — and, the way things are going, don't count on it — Asprilla will likely have to make do with a place on the bench.

The Lineup

90 - Gleeson
5 - Vytas
7 - Miller
13 - Olum
2 - Powell
14 - Zemanski
16 - Valentin
10 - Blanco
8 - Valeri (C)
27 - Asprilla
9 - Adi

The Pick

Sporting is unbeaten at home in forever, and while they're shorthanded, the Timbers have been decimated. KC wins 2-0.