Sporting KC avenged their 2015 playoff loss to the Timbers in the rain at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday. The two clubs will play again next week in Portland.
Sporting Kansas City played host to Portland Timbers FC Sunday in the first half of a crucial ‘home and home’ series that will have huge implications on the Western Conference playoff race. They’ll play again next week in Portland, where Sporting will look to earn the same result they did Sunday, walking away with all three points.
SKC came in looking for revenge after their playoff loss at the hands of the Timbers to end the 2015 season.
The match played to a 2-2 draw; after a scoreless extra time, Portland edged Kansas City in the longest penalty shootout in MLS history, going all the way to the keepers taking penalties. That result was still in the front of the minds of players and fans, as they showed their creativity with the pre-game banners.
Injuries played a role again for Sporting, as three of their most important players would miss the match Sunday. Matt Besler, who missed the MLS All Stars’ loss to Arsenal earlier in the week, was again out of the line-up due to an MCL sprain. Graham Zusi also missed the match with a lingering hamstring injury. Zusi played 41 minutes in the last match against Seattle, but was lifted when he aggravated the injury.
Perhaps the most crucial injury for Sporting KC came in goal, with Tim Melia being scratched with a back injury. Alec Kann got the start for just his third ever MLS appearance, and John Kempin, who played a large role in the penalty shoot-out playoff loss to Portland last season.
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The match started with the intensity you’d expect, given the circumstances; Dom Dwyer earned the game’s first foul just five seconds in. The intensity kept up throughout the first half, with both teams playing extremely aggressive. Both teams also had their fair share of scoring chances, but rain likely had an effect on the pitch and the ball.
That intensity continued into the second half, but this time Sporting converted on one of their chances early. Jacob Peterson, who was almost substituted in the firs half with a leg injury, scored a headed goal off a free kick by Benny Feilhaber to open the scoring. SKC had two more shots come within inches of the goal as they dominated play early in the second half.
Portland came within inches of equalizing in stoppage time with a counter attack. Coming down the field with a five on three advantage, Jack McInerney got the ball with no one around, and fired a shot off the crossbar. That’d be Portland’s last good scoring opportunity, and SKC held on to win their fifth straight home match, 1-0.
With the win, Sporting moves five points over the red line, remaining in fourth place in the West. Portland remain outside looking in at the playoffs for the time being. These two clubs will rematch next week in Portland, where the Timbers will look to earn back the three points they dropped today, or at least score a goal against Sporting for the first time in more than four and a half matches.