Recap: Portland loses to Sporting Kansas City 1-0

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Portland loses their first ever preseason game 1-0 to Kansas City, and Merritt Paulson owes someone dinner.

The Portland Timbers' formation for this game was a 4-2-3-1 with the only changes from the first game being Mikaël Silvestre in place of David Horst and Sal Zizzo in for the injured Jack Jewsbury (Announcers mentioned it was a hamstring strain). The game started out choppy with a lot of fouls and errant passes as both teams looked like they were in preseason form.

As the game settled down Sporting Kansas City created the first shot with a header that was right to Donovan Ricketts. Portland's first chance did not come until much later in the game but they too settled into Caleb Porter's possession style and started to pass the ball around and among the back 6 players. Even though they possessed the ball their was no meaningful possession and the ball stayed mainly on Portland's side of the midfield line.

If and when Portland did get it into SKC's half it was mainly down the right side of the field and through Sal Zizzo. While this was effective in getting the ball forward to dangerous positions outside the box the ball never entered the box to create chances. Portland first sniffed the goal when a KC defender passed it straight to Ryan Johnson when he was behind the defense. The defender then closed down Johnson before he could get a shot off and dribbled it out of bounds for a goal kick.

Portland continually used their high pressure to disrupt KC's rhythm and not allow them to get into their style of game. However there were breakdowns in the pressure, usually in the center and usually between Diego Chara and Will Johnson, but the back line was able to cover for the breakdown and they kept KC from having any dangerous chances.

Portland's best chance of the half came in the 30th minute when once again Portland played down the right side of the field. Zizzo hit a good ball into the top of the box and Ryan Johnson was able to get a shot off but it was right at the keeper.

Overall the half looked a little sloppy and the team did not look as comfortable in the 4-2-3-1 formation and it showed with a lack of cohesion at times.

Second Half

The second half saw whole sale changes again with the second team consisting most of the Young Guns. The Young Guns showed a lot of energy and took to heart the high pressure. Their first opportunity came in the 49th minute but after a scramble and three shots that were blocked and finally KC's keeper jumped on the loose ball.

Two minutes later Portland created another chance as Bright Dike knocked a cross back to Kalif Alhassan who shot it high of the goal. After the shot Portland was able to keep the pressure up and possessed the ball until Soony Saad went down in a freak accident and stayed on the ground for 20 minutes. KC's training staff were so concerned they called in paramedics to move him on a stretcher and finally after a lengthy delay the game was able to restart.

Shortly after the restart Sporting KC earned a free kick 35 yards from goal. The free kick was hit low and hard into the box and took a deflection into the goal. Just a minute later Portland almost pulled level with great combination play between Alhassan and Jose Aldofo Valencia which resulted in Trencito one on one with the keeper. Trencito hit a square ball across the face of goal towards Dike but Dike was unable reach the ball before it traveled all the way out of the box for a throw in.

The Young Guns continued to press for the goal and nearly created it when Dike muscled off his defender and was able to turn and make a run at goal. Unfortunately he won the ball near the touch line and the keeper was able to cut off his angle. Dike's shot was deflected high into the air and would have gone in if it had not been cleared off the line by a KC defender.

Portland had three chances in the final 3 minutes but none were able to test the keeper. The second half was a better half if you solely looked at the chances created but it too was a little sloppy and Portland's defense looked shaky at times.

Observations
  • Diego Valeri really has great vision and was able to find open players close and at a distance
  • Kalif Alhassan passes well but loves to play Matador defense.
  • Silvestre looked really good when he covered for some of the other defenders. He reads the game really well and is able to distribute the ball out of the back.
  • The ball rarely seemed to find itself on the left wing and because of this the Nagbe suffered as was not a factor in the game.
  • Ricketts looked shaky in the back and a step slow.
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