Portland beats Sporting KC, 3-0

The Portland Timbers struck three times in the final 25 minutes to hand Sporting Kansas City a 3-0 defeat Sunday afternoon at sold-out Providence Park in Portland, Ore.

Diego Valeri, Jack Jewsbury and Fanendo Adi found the back of the net as Sporting Kansas City (10-11-4, 34 points) dropped to fifth place in the Western Conference and saw their road winless streak hit 10 regular season matches. Portland (8-8-8, 32 points) leapfrogged Vancouver Whitecaps FC into the sixth and final playoff spot, claiming their first victory in the regular season series in six tries.

Seven days after Sporting Kansas City defeated Portland 1-0 at Children’s Mercy Park, manager Peter Vermes made one change to his lineup in Sunday’s rematch. Left back Jimmy Medranda served a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation and was replaced by veteran Seth Sinovic, who logged his 150th career appearance in the MLS regular season.

Providence Park provided a riveting atmosphere as Sporting Kansas City revisited the site of the epic 2015 Western Conference Knockout Round, a 2-2 draw in which Portland won an 11-round penalty shootout. A cagey first half produced no goals, though both teams lost their influential defensive midfielders through straight red cards. Portland’s Diego Chara received his marching orders in the 12th minute after extending his hand to Benny Feilhaber’s face, while Mustivar was ejected in the 39th minute for a high challenge on Valeri.

A numerical advantage for most of the first period allowed Sporting Kansas City to enjoy 73 percent possession and earn eight corner kicks, two shy of the club record for most in a half. Yet the visitors’ best chance of the opening stanza came in the 10th minute with both sides still at 11 men, when Saad Abdul-Salaam’s blistering attempt was palmed over the bar by Jake Gleeson.

Captain Roger Espinoza was booked two minutes after the restart for a foul on Alvas Powell and will join Mustivar in missing Sporting Kansas City’s next match on Saturday at FC Dallas, serving a one-game suspension for caution accumulation.

The Timbers drew first blood in the 65th minute, finally breaking a remarkable 546-minute scoreless spell against Sporting Kansas City that dated back to 2013. Ike Opara headed Vytautas Andriuskevicius’s in-swinging cross only as far as Valeri, who struck the ball cleanly with the outside of his right boot to finish low past Alec Kann from 18 yards.

Seeking an equalizer, Vermes’ men came agonizingly close to restoring parity multiple times in the late stages. Espinoza’s delightful clip to the back post found substitute Chance Myers in the 79th minute, and though the defender was able to round Gleeson, a tight angle prevented him from pulling the trigger.

Less than a minute later, Feilhaber found Zusi with a pocket of space at the top of the box. Zusi, who was introduced early in the second half for his 200th career MLS appearance (including playoffs), curled a one-time strike narrowly high of the crossbar.

The hosts added two late goals, but not before Sporting Kansas City squandered its best chance of the day. Zusi’s back-heel pass in a crowded penalty area rolled kindly to Jacob Peterson, who pulled a right-footed effort inches wide of Gleeson’s far righthand post. Shortly thereafter, Diego Rubio’s snap header was pushed wide by an outstretched Gleeson.

Portland made their opponents pay for the missed chances in the 87th minute when Darlington Nagbe did wonderfully to set up the team’s second goal. The U.S. international cut past multiple defenders before laying the ball off to Jewsbury near the penalty spot. The former Kansas City midfielder made no mistake, firing the ball high into the roof of the net to seal the result and tally his first goal of 2016. Adi added a third in the second minute of second-half stoppage time, powering into the box before slotting low into the right corner.

Sporting Kansas City continues its Western Conference road swing next Saturday against first-place FC Dallas (13-6-5, 44 points). Oscar Pareja’s side sit atop the Supporters’ Shield standings and boast a 9-0-3 record at Toyota Stadium, where they have outscored opponents 25-7. The game will kick off at 8 p.m., with three hours of live television coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m. on 38 The Spot and SKCTV.

– Story from Sporting KC

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