BY MIKE DONOVAN
PORTLAND, Ore.– When the Portland Timbers and Sporting Kansas City battle Saturday, there will likely be two players on the field that are in the top-ten for games played in KC uniform. But both those players will be in the visiting team’s uniform.
Michael Harrington and Jack Jewsbury spent six and eight years with the club, respectively. And while Jewsbury has played at Kansas City before with the Timbers, Harrington is making his first trip there since a December trade.
“I was there for six years, it will be emotional,” Harrington said. “I got a lot of friends and family that will be there. It will be a special weekend for me.”
In his first season with the Timbers, Harrington has provided a consistent presence at left back, a position that has been a question mark since Portland joined the MLS in 2011. While Steven Smith had a decent season last year for the club, the Timbers have been unable to find consistency at the position.
Jewsbury has played the last few games on the opposite flank to Harrington at right-back. Jewsbury is making a return to the area he grew up in. The Timbers club captain grew up in Springfield, Missouri and played college soccer at Saint Louis University before being drafted by Kansas City in 2003.
“It’s still nice to go back to a place I called home for a long time,” Jewsbury said. “I’ll have a lot of friends and family I haven’t seen in awhile. I’ll have quite a few people in the stands, so it’s exciting to get back there.”
Jewsbury played 195 games in a Kansas City uniform, good for seventh in team history, while Harrington’s 149 games are good for eighth in Kansas City’s MLS history. Both players were also part of a U.S. Open Cup-winning team.
While the game is a homecoming for two Timbers, the match itself is expected to be a clash of similar styles. Both teams have defined styles that involve high pressure.
“They’re a tough team to play against, they are a very good team. They have a formula that they follow like successful teams do,” head coach Caleb Porter said. “You know what you get with them, we’re going to have to play well to win.”
Sporting Kansas City is undefeated at home this season (2-0-1) while Portland counters with an undefeated road record (0-0-3).
“We’re very confident going into the game. We understand how talented their group is. But we’re confident whether it’s here or on the road,” Jewsbury said. “And we’re going to go there and play our style of game.”
Portland struggled in its only previous trip to Sporting Park. The Timbers lost 3-1 in an August 2011 matchup that is most remembered for Jimmy Nielsen getting hit in the head by an Omar Bravo bobblehead thrown from the stands.
RESERVES KNOCK OFF UNIVERSITY OF PORTLAND
The Timbers reserves team continued its successful season by defeating the University of Portland, 3-2 Wednesday night at Merlo Field. Ryan Kawulok, Sal Zizzo, and Jose Valencia scored goals for the club, who has now won four out of its five games in 2013. Valencia has now scored in three reserve games this season.
The match was a homecoming for Kawulok and Steven Evans, who both played their college soccer at UP. The reserves also featured four players from the Timbers U-18 team including 17-year-old Lucas Cawley, who has spent time training with both Real Salt Lake and Fulham’s youth academies.