Normally, when your club scores 40 seconds into the match, it's a good sign of how well your night will go.
Unfortunately for Sporting Kansas City, that wasn't the case Saturday night as defender Chance Myers notched his first career MLS goal in the first minute, but the Portland Timbers came from behind twice to notch a 3-2 win at Sporting Park in front of a sellout crowd of 20,186.
The loss marked Sporting KC's first at home since a 2-1 defeat to the Columbus Crew July 28, 2012.
In the postgame press conference, Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said the uncharacteristic breakdowns on defense cost the club dearly. Vermes said:
"When you lose the ball like we did in the areas of the field that we did and then you have to travel so far to win it back, at some point you're going to then open up as a team. And credit to them, they went right to goal and finished off those two chances. The set piece is a set piece but the other two plays, again we gave up the ball in critical areas of the field that we normally don't do. And we (did) a poor job of putting out the fire."
The game seemed to start off really well for Sporting KC. It took the kickoff and took it straight up the field and Portland was forced to put it out for a throw-in.
Defender Matt Besler launched a monster throw into the middle of the Portland 18-yard box and found the head of Myers, who put the ball into the back of the net. Officially, the goal came after 40 seconds, the third-fastest goal in franchise history.
Portland almost equalized in the fourth minute. Midfielder Diego Valeri made a run into Sporting KC's 18-yard box, but his shot caromed off the onrushing Jimmy Nielsen and bounced off of the crossbar. It was then headed clear by defender Aurelien Collin.
Portland did equalize in the 24th minute on a header from Ryan Johnson. Valeri took a left-footed corner and found Johnson, who beat Besler to the ball. It was the first goal Sporting KC had allowed from a corner kick since a 1-0 loss to Seattle on May 23, 2011, a span of 75 matches.
Sporting KC regained the lead just five minutes later. Graham Zusi's free kick found the foot of Benny Feilhaber, who chipped the ball into the penalty area, where it fell to Collin. Collin one-timed it off the inside of his left foot and into the path of Myers, who calmly finished the chance to make it 2-1.
Four minutes later, however, Portland equalized yet again, this time through Darlington Nagbe. Johnson pounced on one of the many giveaways Sporting KC had in the midfield and immediately started the counterattack. Johnson outran Collin into the 18-yard box and when Nielsen came out to cut the angle, he passed it to Nagbe, who almost had the ball go behind him but managed to make contact and put the ball in the empty net.
Halftime found Sporting KC in the unusual position, for them at least, of having had less than 50 percent of the possession and a lower passing percentage than its opponents.
Portland finally took the lead in the 58th minute. Diego Chara took advantage of yet another giveaway in the midfield and hit Rodney Wallace in stride near the top of the penalty area. Wallace put the ball past Nielsen just before being tackled from behind by Myers.
Wallace's goal marked the first time Sporting KC had given up three goals at home since a 3-2 loss to FC Dallas on August 27, 2011.
After the game, Vermes talked about the inability to hold the lead. He said, "That's not normal for us. Defensively, I say it again, we were very poor to deal with those situations. They were run of the mill plays. They weren't something where they had great buildup or whatever. And then the corner kick, the guy's wide open. I'll have to look at the film again, but he's wide open."
Sporting KC did have chances to salvage a draw out of the match but just couldn't find an equalizer.
Its best chance came in the second minute of stoppage time. Defender Seth Sinovic put a cross into the box from about 30 yards out. Collin headed the ball on frame, but Donovan Ricketts made a very good save and pushed it wide and out for a corner.
In the locker room after the game, Nielsen said:
"We’ve been begging for teams to come here and (attack). They did, and we didn’t have an answer for it. They made it very difficult for us to play the way we wanted and really punished us. Them attacking gives us a little more room, but we didn’t’ take advantage of that. We were poor in making the right decisions."
On a more positive note, Sporting KC also unveiled its new third kit, black with Sporting blue trim, with an argyle pattern on the front above the sponsor logo.
Up next for Sporting KC is a home match Sunday, May 5, with Chivas USA. Kickoff is set for 4:00 p.m. CDT.
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