MLS Game 17– Providence Park
06/27/2014: Partly Cloudy, 19C/66F
Pre-game records: Portland Timbers (W4-D8-L4) vs. Sporting Kansas City (W6-D4-L5)
Portland Timbers – GLK Donovan Ricketts, DEF Michael Harrington, DEF Danny O’Rourke, DEF Pa Modou Kah, DEF Jorge Villafana, MID Will Johnson, MID Diego Chara, MID Diego Valeri, FWD Darlington Nagbe, FWD Fernando Adi, FWD Rodney Wallace. Formation: 4-3-3.
Sporting Kansas City - GLK Eric Kronberg, DEF Igor Juliao, DEF Aurelien Collin, DEF Kevin Ellis, DEF Seth Sinovic, MID Sal Zizzo, MID Lawrence Olum, MID Paulo Nagumara, MID Jacob Peterson, FWD Dominic Dwyer, FWD Soony Saad. Formation: 4-4-2.
World Cup fever had most certainly hit the Rose City and an already soccer mad town was flying high on the buzz from the events going on in Brazil, most especially due to the success of the United States Men’s National Team. For the Timbers, this was game 17 of the league season putting them at the midway point of the current campaign. Caleb Porter will not have been too happy with where the Timbers sit in the table but they have put in some excellent performances, especially in recent games to suggest that the side could really put in a big push in the second half of the season.
Two acquisitions that should help that push for the Timbers will be the new completed signings of Fanendo Adi who was already on loan from Danish club FC Copenhagen, and experienced center back Liam Ridgewell, signed from English side West Bromwich Albion to fill out the clubs quota for designated players along with Diego Valeri, already at the club. Adi has already shown true quality in the matches that he has played for the Timbers and he has already banged in 4 goals in just 6 appearances. Ridgewell will bring stability to the leaky defence and at 29, he has plenty of years left in him and he has faced some of the best strikers around having played the past 11 seasons in the Barclays Premier League in England.
The Timbers and Kansas City had already met this week in the U.S. Open Cup fifth round match with the Timbers running out 3-1 winners at Kansas City. In their last league games, Portland came from behind to grab a late draw with FC Dallas while Kansas put a stop to a 5 game streak without a win by beating Houston Dynamo by 2 goals to 0. Providence Park was rocking for the return of former Timber Sal Zizzo and expecting quite a game.
7 mins: The first real opportunity of the match after a lively start from both sides comes to Will Johnson after a Diego Valeri corner was only headed out to the edge of the penalty area and the Captain almost drilled his shot through a crowd of players but a deflection to the sting off of it and Eric Kronberg gratefully scooped the ball up into his arms. Sporting KC were also showing plenty of attacking prowess in the early moments as they probed on multiple occasions down the wings, looking to get good quality balls into the heart of the Timbers defence that has conceded 27 goals so far this season.
14 mins: Portland break well and Chara finds Darlington Nagbe on the right hand side and his measured cross meets Fanendo Adi’s head perfectly and the ball hits the back of the net but the linesman correctly flags for offside, but only by the slightest margin. Timbers coach Caleb Porter is not happy with the decision though. Then there was an amazing spell of possession for the Portland Timbers who between the 15-20th minutes of the game had a staggering 87.5% of the ball. The home side were really beginning to get on the ball and string their passes together.
24 mins: A throw in that was questionably but correctly awarded to Sporting Kansas City close to the Portland by-line was launched in by specialist Seth Sinovic and Kevin Ellis manages to nudge the ball in the penalty area to Lawrence Olum who made no mistake and fired the ball low and hard past Ricketts from 10 yards out. Yet again, despite good possession, the Timbers found themselves behind at home. Portland Timbers 0-1 Sporting Kansas City.
37 mins: In almost a carbon copy to the disallowed goal from Adi, this time Diego Valeri finds himself on the right hand side just at the right corner of the 18 yard box and curls in an inviting cross that is met by Darlington Nagbe and his header just flies past the far post. So close again for the Timbers who were pressing in the quest to find the equalizer.
Half Time Score: Portland Timbers 0-1 Sporting Kansas City
Shots: POR 7-6 KAN
On Target: POR 2-3 KAN
Corners: POR 3-3 KAN
Possession: Portland Timbers 60.9%-39.1% Sporting Kansas City
46 mins: Almost right off the bat, Sporting KC threaten the Timbers goal again via another long throw from Sinovic and this time it’s Olum who gets a flick on but the Timbers defence this time is able to get the ball away and on the break Valeri so nearly finds Adi in acres of space in the center of the park but just puts too much on the pass that would have put the new signing through on goal.
54 mins: As the Timbers begin to press the game, Rodney Wallace manages to keep the ball in close to the byline and backheels it beautifully to Will Johnson who twists and turns past two Sporting KC defenders and then delivers a decent ball in but the away side get it clear. The Timbers were now really beginning to pin Sporting Kansas City back into their own half, surely it was just a matter of time until a clear cut chance fell to the home side.
64 mins: After relentless pressure from the Timbers, including 90% possession of the ball in the 55-60 segment of the game, Sporting KC hit on the break and after a good tackle from Diego Chara to obtain the ball he gives the ball away to danger man Dwyer when dribbling out and Dwyer’s shot is brilliantly saved at close range by Donovan Ricketts in the Portland goal. A reminder that despite all the possession, the Timbers could still be caught out on the break.
77 mins: Darlington Nagbe with another excellent piece of skills as he glided past 3 defenders and reaches the byline but once again the ball drilled along the ground reaches a Sporting KC player who had defended very well. 5 minutes later Adi is found with a deep ball from Danny O’Rourke but once again his header goes over the bar when it really should have been on target. Portland were still pressing hard but with all their possession, they were still only able to muster 3 shots on goal through the 82nd minute.
Another frustrating night for Caleb Porter and the home side who suffer their second defeat at home this season in the league, two more than in the whole of last season. The statistics showed that the Timbers dominated possession more than in any other game this season at Providence Park but never really looked like scoring against a resilient Sporting KC defence. The Timbers late on even brought on Urruti for Harrington and went with 3 at the back in an attempt to push the game even further forward and even thought the pressure was relentless at times in this second half, Portland just couldn’t find a way through the Sporting KC defence and to the away sides credit, it never really looked likely either.
Caleb Porter must be happy with how Portland has kept the ball in this game (exactly double the passes completed at 490 to 245) but once again frustrated with the lack of goals to possession ratio. I am sure that any coach would rather take the goals and victories over the ability to keep the ball. Fanendo Adi had an off night and spurned many opportunities with his head but Nagbe was tireless and Rodney Wallace looked pacey and did well to stretch the Kansas back line on many occasions. With Liam Ridgewell coming in and Fanendo Adi having better nights than this, the Timbers will surely turn the corner once again and get back on track for the play off places.
Full Time Score: Portland Timbers 0-1 Sporting Kansas City (Olum 24)
Shots: POR 11-9 KAN
Shots On Target: POR 3-4 KAN
Corners: POR 7-5 KAN
Possession: Portland Timbers 66.9%-33.1% Sporting Kansas City