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Portland Timbers ground to dust by Sporting Kansas City in 3-0 loss

MLS: Portland Timbers at Sporting KC Peter G. Aiken

The Portland Timbers’ losing streak continued today as they took a 3-0 drubbing from Western Conference opponents Sporting Kansas City. Now without a point in three matches, the Timbers rarely looked like they were in the match as SKC dominated the run of play.

Sporting put their stamp on the game from the opening minutes, pushing men forward and leaving no openings for Diego Valeri and Samuel Armenteros to get on the ball and carry it forward.

In the 5th minute, the pressure was already beginning to wear on the Timbers and SKC found the first real chance of the night as they sent Gerso on the run down the wing. Reeling the ball in, Gerso drove forward then cut inside and hit a curling ball toward goal from a sharp angle that sent Jeff Attinella diving across the face of goal to push it away.

The Timbers showed some life in the 13th minute on a rare foray forward when Marco Farfan, making his first start since the first week of June, cut a centering ball into the path of the Timbers’ onrushing attack. With both Valeri and Armenteros crashing forward, Valeri dummied the ball through, setting up Armenteros for a first time shot that looked to have Sporting keeper Tim Melia beaten only to ring off the near post and carom away from goal.

Things took a chippy, but typical for the match-up, turn in the 17th minute when Seth Sinovic went studs up into the upper shin of Andres Flores hard enough to tear his sock. Referee Alan Chapman waved the foul away, declaring open season on fouls for both sides and for the next several minutes both midfields availed themselves to the opportunity before getting back into the match.

Chapman would finally call a foul in the 23rd minute, awarding a free kick to the home side just outside the Timbers’ box. Graham Zusi stepped up to the ball and hit a dipping ball that curled over the wall and on goal, but Attinella was tracking the shot and got across the face of goal to make the save.

The chances kept coming for Sporting, however, and in the 28th minute they opened the scoring. After a long period of keeping the Timbers pinned back in their defensive half, SKC were able to work the ball around the pitch, pulling the Timbers out of position before seizing the the opportunity to go at goal. With the Timbers slow to adjust to the more spirited Sporting runs, Roger Espinoza was able to find Diego Rubio with a pass in space outside the Timbers box. Turning toward goal, Rubio fired off a quick, low shot that skipped past the dive of Attinella and inside the near post to give SKC the 1-0 lead.

The homes side struck again in the 37th minute after a half-hearted push forward into the attack from the Timbers ended abruptly and caught the back line off balance. With the Timbers pushed forward, Sporting sent Daniel Salloi on the break in behind the back line. Salloi carried the ball down the flank before centering it for the run of Rubio who hit it first time, giving Attinella no time to react before picking the ball out from the back of the net for the second time.

After a demoralizing first half, the Timbers came out of the locker room looking to make a match out of it. Using their early possession, the Timbers were able work the ball around the Sporting box before finding David Guzman in space 25 yards from goal. With time to line up the chance, Guzman hit a heavy shot on goal that was dipping below the bar and forced Melia to touch it up and out for a corner kick.

The Timbers had another chance in the 67th minute when Diego Valeri picked up the ball on the edge of the SKC box before rolling out toward the flank with it and looking for the cross. With Armenteros dropped deep to get on the ball, Valeri picked out Flores on the far side of the box and the Salvadorian international got up to put a head on the ball, sending it back across the face of goal but just wide of the far post.

SKC had a chance to grab their third of the match in the 73rd minute, again trying to catch the Timbers off balance on the break. Getting the ball quickly down the pitch, Sporting found Espinoza in the center of the pitch and the midfielder fired off a shot through traffic that just skimmed off the outside of the post and away from goal.

The chances continued to come for Sporting as they took advantage of the Timbers’ push forward and in the 89th minute they got their third goal of the match. As the Timbers back line tried to sort out the free flowing Sporting attack, Johnny Russell played a quick one-two pass with Kristian Nemeth, putting Russell in on goal with only Attinella between him and his eighth goal of the season. As Attinella closed him down, Russell slipped a shot just past the Timbers keeper and into the back of the net to give SKC a 3-0 lead and put the game to bed.

The Timbers return to Providence Park next Sunday when they will host the streaking Seattle Sounders in a Cascadia Cup clash with playoff implications.