PORTLAND, Ore. – With not a goal to be found in the inaugural Chipotle Homegrown Game, it was a night for the goalkeepers to shine.
And MLS Homegrown ‘keeper Jon Kempin, who came on in the second half Monday night at Providence Park, shined the brightest. The Sporting Kansas City product came up with two diving saves to preserve the scoreless draw against the Portland Timbers U-23s and received the game's MVP award for his efforts.
“It was a lot of fun,” Kempin told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “It’s good to get in 45 minutes. A lot of these guys I know but some of them I don’t, so it’s good to learn from them as well as play with them. It was a great experience and obviously a good, competitive match.”
The night was a nice reward for a quality season on loan with Sporting’s USL PRO affiliate OKC Energy, where he had five clean sheets in 13 appearances. The US youth international has yet to make his MLS debut, but he saw his first action with Sporting during the 2012 US Open Cup.
“I think, especially as the game went on, it became more of an open game and it went back and forth and it gave the goalkeepers an opportunity to shine,” Homegrown coach Alfonso Mondelo said in his postgame comments. “I think he’s done quite well. He’s had a few games already under his belt in MLS as well and hopefully this will continue to build his confidence and continue to give him an opportunity.”
Kempin’s sprawling efforts came in late action as Timbers attackers Jacori Hayes and Cristian Roldan each fired long-distance shots as the sides went back and forth searching for the would-be game-winner. Kempin said he wasn’t surprised by the efforts or talent presented by the Timbers’ developmental side.
“I knew they were a good team,” Kempin said. “It was a good match. We didn’t have much training, so to get thrown into that was a lot of fun.”