HARRISON, NJ - MARCH 13: A general view of the MLS, Fussball Herren, USA march ball on the field during the first half of the Major League Soccer game between the New York Red Bulls and Minnesota United on March 13, 2022 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire SOCCER: MAR 13 MLS - Minnesota United at New York Red Bulls Icon220332609

While the MLS regular season is almost finished, many teams are still fighting to either keep or win a playoff spot. Before their match, both Portland Timbers and Sporting KC sat just outside the Western Conference’s top seven. With Portland in eighth and Sporting KC in ninth, the game was a must-win for both teams.

In the end, Portland Timbers managed to overcome a 0-1 deficit to win the game 2-1 in stoppage time. The win pushed them past LA Galaxy and FC Dallas and into a playoff spot. Sporting KC remain in ninth place. This tactical analysis will explain how Portland Timbers managed to win the game.


Regular readers of TFA will know that this section usually includes a Wyscout graphic showcasing both teams’ lineups. Unfortunately, an accurate graphic for this game was unavailable. Instead, I will do my best to outline how the two teams lined up.

Portland Timbers’ head coach, Giovanni Savarese, lined up in a 4-3-3. While the shape of this formation changed during the match, it looked something like this:

GK: Steve Clark (#12)
RB: Jorge Moreira (#2) – CB: Bill Tuiloma (#25) – CB: Claude Dielna (#5) – LB: Jorge Villafaña (#4)
CM: Andy Polo (#11) – CM: Diego Chará (#21) – CM: Eryk Williamson (#30)
CAM: Diego Valeri (#8)
RF: Dairon Asprilla (#27) – LF: Jeremy Ebobisse (#17)

Sporting KC’s head coach, Peter Vermes, opted for a 4-1-4-1. His team took this shape:

GK: Tim Melia (#29)
RB: Graham Zusi (#8) – CB: Graham Smith (#16) – CB: Matt Besler (#5) – LB: Luís Martins (#36)
CDM: Ilie Sánchez (#6)
RM: Gerso Fernandes (#12) – CM: Benny Feilhaber (#30) – CM: Roger Espinoza (#17) – LM: Dániel Sallói (#20)
ST: Erik Hurtado (#19)

To read the full tactical analysis of this game – click here

Artwork by @chapulana

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