PORTLAND, Ore. – Sporting Kansas City solved the Portland Timbers the second time around, making an early first-half goal by Lawrence Olum stand up in a 1-0 win Friday night at Providence Park.
In the teams’ second meeting in a four-day span, Sporting employed a physical approach, resulting in 22 fouls, to shut down a Timbers attack that ran roughshod in a 3-1 victory Tuesday in a fifth-round US Open Cup victory Tuesday at Sporting Park.
With their second consecutive victory on the heels of a five-game winless streak, SKC jump into a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference with D.C. United, pending the weekend’s upcoming games, with 25 points from 16 games.
Portland, who failed to see a payoff in using eight different players from their Tuesday lineup, were shut out for the first time since April 19 and are now winless in their last two to remain just under the red line in sixth place in the Western Conference with 20 from 17 games.
Sporting got the better of a rough-and-tumble first half, highlighted by their 11 fouls (just three for the Timbers in the half), when Olum was in the right place at the right time on a long Seth Sinovic throw-in into the penalty area at the 24-minute mark.
The Timbers failed to clear and Olum eventually got his right foot to the ball for a rolling shot that beat goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
Otherwise, Portland controlled much of the action in early proceedings.
They had a goal wiped away when Fanendo Adi got on the end of a perfect Darlington Nagbe cross from the right wing for a booming header in the 14th minute, but the big striker was ruled offside.
In the 37th minute it was Nagbe who just missed out on a header goal after a pin-point Diego Valeri cross, but his effort to the far post sailed a touch wide.
After the break, Sporting very nearly added to their lead in the 63rd minute when Soony Saad stripped Diego Chara as he attempted to clear from his own box. But Ricketts was there for the reaction save on the ensuing shot.
For most of the second half, however, Portland continued to press the issue, bringing on forward Gaston Fernandez, who recorded a brace in each of the Timbers last two USOC games, in the 65th minute. Forward Maximiliano Urruti then came on the 82nd minute, as Portland went to a three-man backline in desperate search of an equalizer.
The Timbers best chance late came in the 82nd minute, when Adi once again got his head to a cross, this time from Danny O’Rourke, but his header in the box was high. Otherwise, the center back pairing of Aurelien Collin and Kevin Ellis did well to keep the dangerous opportunities to a minimum to preserve the victory.
Portland is back in action in a week’s time for a Fourth of July matchup on the road against the LA Galaxy, while Sporting play host to the Chicago Fire in a July 6 matinee.
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Darlington Nagbe||Normally, players on the losing side don't grab top honor, but Nagbe had several moments of pure genius, and was unlucky to not have an outstanding assist|
|2||Kevin Ellis||The youngster put in another fine performance in the middle, in a tough venue, and provided the game's lone assist to boot|
|3||Aurelien Collin||Is looking like he's getting back to his best, and a gutsy performance on the road for a shutout is a good place to rally the team for the 2nd half of 2014|