Sporting Kansas City (10-12-7, 37 points) fell to a late 2-1 defeat to the Portland Timbers (13-11-4, 43 points) on the road at Providence Park on Saturday night in Oregon.
Benny Feilhaber gave Sporting the lead midway through the second half, before the Timbers tallied late on through Jeremy Ebobisse in the 83rd minute and Brian Fernandez in the 94th minute to take all three points.
Sporting was playing without the side’s three top goalscorers as Felipe Gutierrez served a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation, while Johnny Russell (Scotland) and Krisztian Nemeth (Hungary) were each on international duty for their respective countries.
Sporting was the first to threaten as Gerso Fernandes slipped Erik Hurtado in behind the Portland backline in the third minute, but his powerful low strike was repelled by Steve Clark in the Timbers goal before the ball was scrambled away for a throw-in.
The Timbers responded immediately and forced Tim Melia into his first save of the game in the sixth minute as right back Jorge Moreira got forward well and forced the Sporting goalkeeper into an excellent stop, sprawling down to his left to tip his shot around the post.
The hosts thought they’d earned a penalty in the ninth minute when Diego Valeri’s effort from distance struck Luis Martins’ arm that was tucked inside his body and referee Alex Chilowicz pointed to the spot without hesitation. However, after being flagged by Video Assistant Referee Malik Badawi, Chilowicz reviewed the play and ruled that no handling offense had occurred.
The game sparked back to life in the 37th minute when Ilie Sanchez fed Gerso on the right wing, and the tricky winger cut inside of Diego Chara before unleashing a strike that was deflected inches wide of the post by Claude Dielna.
Seconds before the halftime whistle blew, Moreira found a pocket of space 20 yards from goal following a recycled set piece and struck a curling attempt on frame that was gathered by a stretching Melia.
Sporting began the second half on the front foot and tested Clark once again in the 49th minute as left back Luis Martins lined up a strike from 25 yards that was well beaten away to safety by the Timbers goalkeeper.
Portland responded with a chance of their own two minutes later as Jeremy Ebobisse got his feet in a muddle when trying to convert Dairon Asprilla’s cross in front of goal.
The Timbers spurned another good opportunity in the 60th minute as Valeri’s delightfully sliced delivery into the area was met at the back post by Dielna, but the center back’s header flew well wide of the target.
Sporting should’ve taken the lead in the 61st minute when Gerso’s cross was bungled by Clark right into the path of Daniel Salloi, but the Hungarian winger sent his shot over the bar and onto the roof of the net.
Sporting Kansas City finally took the lead in the 65th minute when Salloi laid a ball off to Benny Feilhaber on the right wing, and the veteran midfielder sent a glorious curling shot towards the far corner that looped over Clark and snuck just inside the post to give Sporting a 1-0 lead with his fourth goal of the 2019 MLS campaign.
Portland almost pulled themselves level in the 72nd minute when Valeri’s corner from the left-hand side was glanced on goal by the head of Dielna who saw the ball flash across the face of goal and clip the post before bouncing out.
Sporting returned the favor a minute later as Martins advanced forward from his left back position and struck a rasping shot from a tight angle against the post and out.
The Timbers found the equalizer in the 83rd minute as Chara was freed down the right wing and whipped a ball across the face of goal that took the slightest deflection off Graham Smith, allowing Ebobisse to stride in and tap the ball into the back of the net and make it 1-1.
The game was almost flipped on its head once again in the 89th minute as Salloi intercepted a ball in midfield, strode forward and struck a powerful effort that was parried away by Clark.
In the end, it was Portland that snatched all three points at the death as, in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time, Valeri’s cross from the left wing found substitute Brian Fernandez at the far post to nod home from point blank range and condemn Sporting to defeat.
Sporting Kansas City remains on the road next weekend as the side heads to California to take on the LA Galaxy at Dignity Health Sports Park in a nationally televised contest on Sunday, Sept. 15.
The contest will kick off at 9 p.m. with live coverage on FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports GO, Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM.
- Story from Sporting KC