Preview: Sporting, Timbers begin final push toward playoffs
LIVESTRONG SPORTING PARK, Kansas City, Kan.
8:30 p.m. ET (KSMO; KPTV Fox 12), MatchDay Live
August 17, 2011 (WEEK 23; MLS Game 223)
Sporting Kansas City return to league play looking to restart a long run of success when the Portland Timbers come to Livestrong Sporting Park on Wednesday evening. Sporting saw their 14-game unbeaten streak come to an end in their first loss in their new home, a 2-1 defeat by Seattle 11 days ago. The Timbers are completing a three-game road swing, coming off a 2-1 loss at Houston last Sunday.
REFEREE: Elias Bazakos. SAR (bench): Eric Boria; JAR (opposite): Corey Parker; 4th: Abbey Okulaja
MLS Career: 17 games; FC/gm: 26.4; Y/gm: 2.8; R: 4; pens: 2
INJURY REPORT: SPORTING KANSAS CITY — OUT: MF Davy Arnaud (sports hernia surgery); DF Aurelien Collin (lower back fracture); MF Craig Rocastle (R knee sprain); MF Luke Sassano (R knee sprain); DF Daneil Cyrus (L foot fracture); MF Konrad Warzycha (R knee surgery); QUESTIONABLE: MF Jeferson (R quad strain) ... PORTLAND TIMBERS — OUT: DF Kevin Goldthwaite (L knee ACL rupture); FW Eddie Johnson (concussion); FW Spencer Thompson (R knee); QUESTIONABLE: MF Jack Jewsbury (hamstring strain); PROBABLE: DF Jeremy Hall (groin soreness); GK Troy Perkins (R hip soreness); DF Rodney Wallace (hamstring strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: KC: Omar Bravo (through Aug. 17) ... POR: Lovel Palmer (caution accumulation; through Aug. 17)
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: KC: Aurelien Collin ... POR: Rodney Wallace
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: KC: Omar Bravo, Julio Cesar, Birahim Diop ... POR: Jeremy Hall, James Marcelin
ALL-TIME: Sporting 1 win, 2 goals ... Timbers 0 wins, 1 goal ... Ties 0
- C.J. Sapong and Aurelien Collin scored early to lead Sporting to a 2-1 victory in the first meeting between the teams, July 2 in Portland.
- Coaches record: Peter Vermes v POR: P1 W1 L0 T0 ... John Spencer vs. KC: P1 W0 L1 T0
7/2: POR 1, KC 2 (Nagbe 45 — Sapong 15; Collin 19)
- Sporting KC took the lead with two goals in a four-minute span. In the 15th minute, Omar Bravo found Sapong with a forward pass and Sapong rounded Mamadou Danso before firing a shot past Troy Perkins from the top of the box.
- Then four minutes later, Matt Besler launched in a long throw-in that Sapong flicked on, finding Aurelien Collin near the top of the six-yard box. The big French center back guiding a glancing header just inside the right post for the 2-0 lead.
- The Timbers pulled a goal in stunning fashion just before halftime. Darlington Nagbe controlled a corner that had been punched out by Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, juggled it twice with his right foot and then sent a looping volley inside the left-hand post.
- PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-4-2): Troy Perkins - Steve Purdy, Mamadou Danso, Eric Brunner, Rodney Wallace - Kalif Alhassan (Sal Zizzo 73), Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara, Darlington Nagbe (James Marcelin 78) - Eddie Johnson (Kenny Cooper 67), Jorge Perlaza
- SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-3-2): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Michael Harrington - Julio Cesar - Milos Stojcev (Kei Kamara 72), Graham Zusi, Roger Espinoza - C.J. Sapong (Teal Bunbury 93+), Omar Bravo (Birahim Diop 82).
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City return to league action after a weekend off, their last match a 2-1 loss to Seattle Sounders FC on Aug. 6 at Livestrong Sporting Park. Sporting have 30 points from 23 matches on the season, tied for fifth place in the Eastern Conference.
- Sporting got the opener from another long throw by Matt Besler in the 20th minute, as he found Kei Kamara unmarked at the top of the box, where he beat Keller to the ball and flicked it into the empty net.
- Omar Bravo was shown a straight red card in the 59th minute, but the home side couldn't hang on. First, in the final minute on the clock, Mauro Rosales danced through the Sporting defense before cutting his shot inside the far post to tie the game.
- Less than two minutes later, the Argentinean maestro played creator, carving up SKC's back line and flicking through Mike Fucito to Lamar Neagle. His shot went back against the grain, pinged off the right post and into the goal.
- Sporting manager Peter Vermes made two changes to the team that defeated Real Salt Lake 2-0 at Livestrong Sporting Park. Birahim Diop and C.J. Sapong came into the team, for Teal Bunbury and the suspended Roger Espinoza.
- SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-1-3): Jimmy Nielsen - Michael Harrington, Julio Cesar, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Birahim Diop, Graham Zusi - Jeferson (Luke Sassano 39) - Kei Kamara (Chance Myers 82), C.J. Sapong (Teal Bunbury 65), Omar Bravo (sent off 59).
- The loss to Seattle was the first ever at Livestrong Sporting Park for SKC, and ended their club-record 14-game unbeaten streak.
- "It's been a good run," Kei Kamara said. "We can be disappointed about the whole thing, but when it comes down to it, we just have to move on. We can't change anything about it."
- Sporting's last loss before the long unbeaten streak had come on a last-minute goal by Seattle for a 1-0 loss May 21. Along the way, SKC had kept the streak going with three equalizing goals in the 89th minute or later.
- "For the most part I think we did a good job, similar to the last game when we were a man down over the last 30 minutes or so," defender Michael Harrington said. "We did a good job staying compact. I feel like all the way until the last five or 10 minutes, guys were getting tired, we're getting stretched out, their guys were starting to get too much service behind our backs and unfortunately they got two goals."
- For the second time this season, Matt Besler recorded an assist from a long throw-in on SKC's goal vs. Seattle. The first came in the first meeting with Portland. A Besler long throw has played a part in three Sporting goals this season.
- "It's a weapon for us," Besler said. "We have a lot of targets. We're finally getting the timing down. We worked on it a little bit in practice. It's starting to show. Hopefully, we can get a few more goals from them."
- In the Seattle game, Sporting saw one injury hit when Luke Sassano suffered a sprained MCL in his right knee, which will put him out 4-6 weeks.
- Then in a reserve match following the league game, recent acquisition Daneil Cyrus was lost for the remainder of the season with a broken metatarsal in his left foot.
- "It's not good." SKC manager Peter Vermes said. "It sucks. It really does, especially for (Cyrus). After those guys, then we are really starting to dig deep. There are a couple guys that I have in mind that I've thought about. I would rather that one gets back and we're flying from there."
- Matt Besler and Julio Cesar are expected to pair in central defense, with Aurelien Collin still sidelined with a spine fracture. While he still captains Jamaica's national team, Shavar Thomas will provide cover — he has made three league appearances this season, all as a substitute, totaling 35 minutes.
- "Every MLS team has things like this happen," Besler said, "but that's why the best teams emerge. It's about who can handle all that stuff."
The Portland Timbers saw their three-game unbeaten run come to an end, falling to a 2-1 defeat to the Houston Dynamo on Sunday evening at Robertson Stadium. The Timbers have 26 points from 23 games, sitting in seventh place in the Western Conference.
- The Dynamo took the lead after 17 minutes. A Bobby Boswell shot off a corner was blocked and deflected out some 40 yards from goal -- where Adam Moffat hit a thunderous strike that beat Portland goalkeeper Troy Perkins into the upper right corner.
- Houston then doubled their lead in the 27th minute, when Brad Davis slipped in Colin Clark, who nutmegged a defender for Brian Ching to finish from close range.
- The Timbers pulled a goal back in the 56th minute when Sal Zizzo found Darlington Nagbe with a cross at the back post, and he headed back for Jack Jewsbury, whose thumping volley took a deflection on its way to the back of the net.
- Timbers coach John Spencer made three changes to the team that reached a 1-1 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium. Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara and Eddie Johnson came into the team, in place of James Marcelin, Jorge Perlaza and the suspended Jeremy Hall.
- PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-4-2): Troy Perkins - Lovel Palmer, David Horst, Eric Brunner, Mike Chabala - Sal Zizzo, Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara (James Marcelin 46), Darlington Nagbe (Kalif Alhassan 73) - Kenny Cooper, Eddie Johnson (Jorge Perlaza 40).
- The Houston game was the second of a three-game road swing that concludes with the visit to Sporting Kansas City. Portland's lone away win came July 16 at Chicago.
- "In the second half, I don't think I'd be too far away from saying that we had some great chances to possibly tie the game, if not win it. I think we were very unlucky to not come away with something (in Houston)," said Timbers head coach John Spencer.
- Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury returned to the lineup after a two-match absence due to a hamstring strain and scored his single-season career-best seventh goal in the loss at Houston. Jewsbury scored 14 goals total in his first eight MLS seasons.
- Jewsbury's goal marked the first time this season the Timbers had scored goals in back-to-back road games. They were coming off a 1-1 draw at San Jose.
- "Overall, we thought we had a pretty good performance, and if we finish a few more chances on the offensive end, I think we at least get one and maybe even three points out of the game," Jewsbury said.
- Striker Eddie Johnson missed two games with a concussion before returning to the starting lineup for the Houston match. However, he suffered another concussion in a clash of heads and forced to leave the field before the end of the first half. He has been ruled out of the SKC game.
- While Adam Moffat scored for Houston against his former club, the two players who went to Portland in the deal — defenders Mike Chabala and Lovel Palmer — were in the starting lineup together for a fourth consecutive match (a fifth start for Palmer). But Palmer will miss out on the SKC game through caution accumulation.
- After missing a match to suspension, Diego Chara returned to the side, but played only the opening 45 minutes before he was removed in place of James Marcelin.
"I think for 60 minutes we took it to them, and I think they could agree with that too. I think as the game went on, it was going to open up," said Chabala. "There was a stretch of about 15-20 minutes where we let those two goals in. You know you can't rest with that team."