The Portland Timbers found a late equalizer from the penalty spot to salvage a 2-2 draw with Sporting Kansas City on Saturday evening at Children's Mercy Park — in a match that finished 10-on-9. The draw means that the Timbers won't be able to lock up a Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs spot until the final regular-season match next Sunday.
The game started lopsided, with SKC getting off the first seven shots of the match in the opening 22 minutes, and then it got wild. Sebastian Blanco was able to get on a rebounded ball in the box for the 29th-minute Timbers opener, but in the next 30 seconds, Johnny Russell whipped in a cross that Krisztian Nemeth was able to head home for his first goal in more than four months to get SKC level.
Then, a fracas between the teams, starting with on-field contact between Brian Fernandez and Felipe Gutierrez, complicated the plot further. Fernandez got a yellow card and then a red card in the ensuing extracurriculars, which would have worked out in SKC's advantage, except that Roger Espinoza grabbed Blanco's throat, which was spotted on Video Review, resulting in 10-on-10 soccer.
But it would be two Timbers subs who would bring them back level. Jeremy Ebobisse won a PK after being dragged down by Ilie Sanchez in front of goal — resulting in a straight red card — and Dairon Asprilla beat Tim Melia from the spot to score the equalizer.
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- 29' – POR – Sebastian Blanco | WATCH
- 30' – SKC – Krisztian Nemeth | WATCH
- 46' – SKC – Daniel Salloi | WATCH
- 85' – POR – Dairon Asprilla (PK) | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: The Timbers had the chance to wrap up a playoff spot, given that the Quakes-Sounders and Rapids-FC Dallas results went their way. Not only were they not able to get the win, they lost Fernandez to a red card, and won't have him for their playoffs-starts-now match hosting San Jose next Sunday. For SKC? Just another weird match in a weird season, but they've ensured they won't finish dead last in the West with the result.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Ilie's arm tug on Ebibosse was just the breakthrough the Timbers were desperate to find, and Asprilla made sure it counted.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Blanco scored the opener and made his presence felt throughout the match, including somehow provoking Espinoza into a red that instantly took away the man advantage SKC thought they'd lucked into.