KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Chance Myers spent some on-pitch time celebrating his first-ever MLS goals, a pair of tallies that would normally be enough to deliver three points.
Afterward, though, he and his Sporting Kansas City teammates could only lament the mistakes that kept those goals from standing up for even a single point.
The celebrations only lasted “for about a couple of minutes after each goal,” Myers said after Portland exploited Kansas City's possession woes in the Timbers' 3-2 victory on Saturday night.
“We didn't do enough to come away with the victory,” he said, “so it sucks.”
Myers struck just 40 seconds into the match, heading home Matt Besler's long throw-in for the third-fastest goal in club history and the fastest ever at Sporting Park since it opened in 2011. At the time, it seemed like a shot of sweet redemption for his own-goal early last season at JELD-WEN Field, when Portland won 1-0 and snapped Sporting's 7-0 run to open the 2012 campaign.
When Ryan Johnson equalized in the 24th minute for the Timbers, Myers answered in the 29th with a tap-in of Aurelien Collin's short pass following a long entry ball from Benny Feilhaber. And again, it seemed he had delivered three points for Sporting – until Portland roared back behind Darlington Nagbe's equalizer in the 33rd minute and Rodney Wallace's game-winner in the 58th.
While Johnson's tally came on a corner kick, all three goals came after counterattacks with the backline pushed forward. That wasn't the result of a calculated risk gone bad, manager Peter Vermes said, but of poor execution in the possession game.
“The difference in the game is a simple one,” Vermes said. “I think that you have to give credit to them in that they came out to press a little bit, but we broke the pressure many times. We gave the ball away far too easily in the final third and the middle third, and that allowed them to counter on us.
“Their second goal was an 80-yard run,” he added. “There's no way that should take place over the course of a match, especially at home. We weren't good in those moments, and it hurt us big time. Losing possession that far up the field and then having to run 80, 90 yards to try to win it back, we just lost a lot of energy in the first half.”
Sporting aren't likely to change their strategy of throwing Myers and left back Seth Sinovic into the attack, though.
“When those guys are up there and they have the ball and they have 20 yards of space around them, it's a great buildup,” Vermes said. “The problem is that we just gave the ball to the other team.
“It's one thing to serve it into the box, and it gets cleared away and they go from there, but to just give a pass to a guy – it was wide guys, it was guys in the middle, we just gave the ball away way too easy and put ourselves under too much pressure.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.