The Portland Timbers came back from a two goal deficit to beat Sporting Kansas City 3-2 in their final match of the preseason. After a slow start to the match, the Timbers were invigorated by substitute Samuel Armenteros who played a role in all three of the Timbers goal, scoring two before setting up the match winner.
As with every match between the two sides, the early going saw end to end play for both the Timbers and SKC. There were chances for both sides, including an early shot that forced Jake Gleeson into a sprawling save to the push the ball wide, but neither side looked likely to concede through the first twenty minutes.
In the 27th minute, however, Sporting finally broke through. Moments after a strong save from Gleeson, Kansas City were again attacking the Timbers back line and Rodger Espinoza slipped in behind for a one-touch finish into the back of the net. Although the Timbers asked for the offside call, none was forthcoming and the scoreline went to 1-0 SKC.
The Timbers came close to evening the scoreline late in the first half when Sebastian Blanco wove his way through a maze of defenders wide on the left wing before clipping a sharp ball across the face of goal. Feet from the end line, Fanendo Adi seemed to get a head on the ball only to see it ricochet up and away from goal. The miss was not as mysterious as it first seemed, however, as the ball actually caromed off Adi’s arm and not his head.
In the waning moments of the half, Kansas City came close to grabbing their second after a scramble in the Timbers box saw the ball pop out to Felipe Gutiérrez on the edge fo the area. As the ball fell to him, Gutiérrez hit a volley through traffic that had Gleeson beat, only for David Guzman to knock the ball away off the line.
The second half started off with a promising look for the Timbers as Alvas Powell won a corner when his cross off an overlapping run was deflected out by a defender. On the ensuing spot kick, the ball fell nicely to substitute Samuel Armenteros whose volley skipped just over the bar.
Still, Kansas City remained dangerous and in the 52nd minute they got their second goal of the match. A sharp through ball found Diego Rubio running off the shoulder of Liam Ridgewell and put him in on goal. Although Gleeson closed down the Sporting striker, he was unable to put a hand to Rubio’s placed shot that slid past him and into the back of the net.
Just two minutes later the Timbers struck back, finding Armenteros cutting through the center of the pitch on a diagonal run. As he arrived in the box, Armenteros hit a shot back across the face of goal and was just able to pick out the far side of the net around Kansas City keeper Tim Melia.
The Timbers kept the pressure on and in the 59th minute Armenteros got his brace. After his first time shot off a Vytas cross was blocked off his foot, Armenteros reclaimed the ball in the box, surrounded by Sporting defenders. With a deft series of touches, Armenteros was able to work the ball into space and snap off a shot that evened up the scoreline at two apiece.
With the score tied up, Sporting poured on some pressure of their own, forcing Gleeson into several big saves as the match wound down. First knocking away a snap header that looked destined for the corner of the net, then blanking a one on one opportunity, Gleeson held the line.
The tie would not last, but it was the Timbers who broke the deadlock as Armenteros was once again played into the Kansas City box. Although Armenteros had the ball knocked away from it fell to another newcomer, Cristhian Paredes. As the ball fell to him, Paredes uncorked a shot into the crowd of Kansas City players in front of goal and, although it was deflected, the ball had the power to make it through before splashing into the back of the net and giving the Timbers their first lead of the match.
The Timbers start their season in earnest on Sunday, March 4th with a road match against the LA Galaxy.