The Portland Timbers went on the road to take on Sporting Kansas City today and return with a point earned against the top team in the Western Conference in a 1-1 draw.
Despite a long list of injuries, the Timbers were able to scrape together a defensive unit to bring to Kansas City. The side may have looked in trouble coming into the match, but their patchwork lineup came to play and locked things down in the defensive end to start the match out.
Then, in the 26th minute, the Timbers got their opener. After stifling a Sporting attack, the Timbers defense cleared the ball down the pitch, finding Sebastian Blanco on the break. With Diego Valeri running in space to his right, Blanco touched a simple ball into the path of the Maestro and took off on a run toward goal, dragging the defense with him. Blanco’s run afforded Valeri the space he needed to touch the ball forward into space, take the measure of Sporting keeper Tim Melia, and unleash a thunderous shot that kissed off the underside of the bar and into the back of the net.
The second half looked like the same old story for the Timbers, however, as Sporting pressed forward, looking for the equalizer. While the Timbers had been equal to the Kansas City press in the first half, the side struggled in the second half.
Kansas City would capitalize in the 60th minute, pulling things equal after a long period of possession. A chipped pass into the Timbers box from Roger Espinoza fell to the feet of substitute Daniel Salloi. In on goal, Salloi had Timbers keeper Jake Gleeson closing him down and a tight shooting angle, but found the back of the net anyway, roofing his point-blank shot for the game-tying goal.
Despite being on the back foot for much of the half, the Timbers looked good for their second in the 73rd minute as Fanendo Adi went down in the Sporting box. After a pass from Valeri sent him in on goal, Adi touched the ball past Melia and then went to ground, drawing a whistle from referee Alan Kelly. This time it was Valeri stepping up to the spot to take the penalty and the Argentine went hard down the middle, only for Melia to stand strong and palm the shot away.
Both sides pressed forward, looking for the winner, but none was forthcoming, despite both sides generating chances.
The Timbers are back in Portland Wednesday, hosting the Chicago Fire for their final match before taking a week off for the Gold Cup.