The Portland Timbers were shut out for the twelfth time in the 2015 season tonight as they gave up a late goal to Sporting Kansas City, losing a match that could have seen them move up the standings but instead saw the team fall below the red line in the Western Conference.
Despite creating chance after chance and taking a monstrous seventeen shots over the course of the match, the Timbers were, for the second time in a row, unable to beat Sporting keeper Tim Melia. Throwing Fanendo Adi, Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe, Rodney Wallace, Lucas Melano, Dairon Asprilla, and Maximiliano Urruti at the Sporting defense seemed to do nothing as the Timbers simply could not break through.
The chances were there. In the first half the Timbers forced three saves out of Melia; in the second half they forced him to make yet another three. Diving punches, close in blocks, and simple catches were all on offer as the Kansas City keeper had the chance to show off his full reperatoir.
For their part, the Timbers were not bad, per se, at least not until giving up the game's lone, disastrous goal. The runs, the passes, and even the shots were quality stuff. But they just weren't good enough.
In the 83rd minute, Kriztian Nemeth showed the Timbers what good enough looks like. Getting the ball outside the Timbers box, Nemeth ducked and weaved, keeping the ball glued to his feet as he beat three Timbers defenders -- sending two of them slipping to the ground in the process -- before uncorking a low, strong, placed shot that skimmed the turf and rolled just inside the far post of the Timbers' goal as Adam Kwarasey could only dive after it in vain.
The loss leaves the Timbers with 44 points, tied with the San Jose Earthquakes, but behind the Quakes on goal differential and looking up at the red line from seventh place. With three games remaining in the season, the Timbers next play against Real Salt Lake on the road at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, UT on Wednesday the 14th.