It's been a week and a half since Kansas City last had a league game, but it's back to work tomorrow when the Wizards host the second expansion team this year, the Portland Timbers. The Timbers meanwhile are coming in on short rest, having played in Houston on Sunday. The Timbers went directly from Houston to KC, but will have to replace Lovell Palmer who is suspended due to yellow card accumulation. The Timbers didn't travel with a reserve right back, meaning either finding a guy that can sub in for the game, or flying out someone like Eric Purdy for this game. The game will also mark the return to Kansas City for Jack Jewsbury. Jewsbury, who is captaining the Timbers is having a career year in Portland with 7 goals and 6 assists for the former Wizard.
For KC, they've not done well in recent history went coming off a week off. Just this season, KC has come off a weekend off for week performances against Columbus (1-0, possibly the worst performance of the season) and LA (4-1). Hopefully this game changes that recent trend for KC. The team will have Roger Espinoza back from his one game suspension, but will be without Omar Bravo due to his suspension, along with the mounting injury issues. Shavar Thomas is likely to at least return to the bench as cover for Matt Besler and Julio Cesar. The question is whether Teal Bunbury comes on for the suspended Bravo or does Peter Vermes try Milos Stojcev or possibly move Graham Zusi up there.
Number to Remember - 6 - The number of points that Portland has earned on the road this season, 1 win and 3 draws for the Timbers away from Jeld-Wen Field. This should be a game that KC gets all 3 points from if they want to be in the playoffs. They still have games in hand on 3 of the 4 teams in front of them, and only 1 point behind New York and Houston.
Key Match Up - Roger Espinoza vs Jack Jewsbury - Espinoza needs to keep his attitude in check enough to keep himself from getting a needless red card, but needs to keep the fire that has basically made him the team's best player in the two and a half games he played before his red card against RSL. This is going to be especially true closer to goal where Jewsbury has done plenty of damage this year on free kicks.
PREDICTION - Portland isn't a very good road team, and will be playing their second one in 4 days, with a day of travel on Monday. This should be a game that KC should win. Overall KC is the better team all around as well. But KC's recent history coming off of weeks off hasn't exactly been good (it's not just this season), so you have to wonder if Vermes over thinks these long breaks. Hopefully not and the team comes out hungry to play the same way they did against RSL and Seattle. If they do I think KC could win this one going away, but the longer this goes scoreless I think the more confident that Portland will get that they can steal one.
SKC - 2 (Zusi, Bunbury)
POR - 1 (Jewsbury)