Even though a stoppage time goal spoiled their chances for victory, the Portland Timbers managed to escape with a point as they drew Sporting Kansas City 1-1 on the road. Felipe Mora scored the goal for Portland.
The Timbers opted for some mild rotation in this match, which makes sense considering they’ll be on the road later this weekend and for the next few weeks. They put three defensive midfielders on the field with Diego Chara, Renzo Zambrano, and Cristhian Paredes all starting, which was certainly ... a choice. But you have to do what you have to do with the road trip.
Portland did well to start the match, managing a talented SKC squad. They didn’t let Sporting get too comfortable and were able to pressure Kansas City with a solid offensive attack. There were a few mishandled balls and bungled transition attempts, but otherwise the Timbers looked good.
Then they went from good to great after opening the scoring in the 17th minute. Marvin Loria got the ball down the left side of the field and took it towards the box. He then launched a pinpoint pass into the box to an on-rushing Felipe Mora. Mora, who’s head seems to have been “kissed by God” as Roy Kent might put it, used his noggin to put it in the back of the net and make it 1-0 Portland. It was Mora’s fifth headed goal of the season and seventh total.
Portland would maintain that lead for the rest of the half. They bunkered down (literally) in their own goal and didn’t allow any truly successful attacking actions from SKC. It wasn’t always the prettiest, but it got the job done for the first 45 and allowed them to maintain a one goal lead.
The second half started and the Timbers continued to look solid. Truthfully, there wasn’t a ton of action from either team. That’s something that usually works in favor of the winning team, which thankfully was Portland. The Timbers didn’t allow anything bad to happen, and while that is a low bar to clear, it’s a perfectly fine benchmark after allowing six goals in a match. They’re bunkering down was paying off.
The Timbers continued to bunker down for most of the early minutes of the second half, at one point boasting four (!) defensive midfielders. But the Timbers eventually decided to bring on some offensive firepower, with Sebastian Blanco and Diego Valeri both subbing on towards the middle part of the second half
The bunker, unfortunately, broke down in stoppage time. Daniel Salloi got the ball at the top of the box not two minutes into stoppage time and launched a beauty of a shot right past Steve Clark. Suddenly, the Timbers were only likely to come away with one point instead of three.
After that goal, the Timbers’ objective shifted from heading to Austin with a win to heading there with at least a point. Fortunately for Portland, despite the scares from Kansas City, they were able to hold on, earning a 1-1 draw.
The Timbers will now head to Texas for a match against Austin FC. The two teams will face off on Saturday, Aug. 21 with kickoff set for 6 p.m.