Caleb Porter said after the game that Portland's plan was to absorb the Sporting KC attack and then spring them on the counter afterwards.
Three goals later and Caleb Porter's game plan worked perfectly as the Portland Timbers knocked off Sporting Kansas City 3-1 in the fifth round of the US Open Cup.
It was the second straight year that Sporting KC was eliminated on their second game in the tournament, falling last year to Orlando City.
Sporting KC came out strong to start the game, forcing the game into the final third and getting a few early opportunities. The tide started to switch around the 15th minute, however, with Portland taking the reigns for the rest of the game. They started to catch Seth Sinovic and Kevin Ellis too far forward on the wings and they pressed Sporting KC on the counter.
Their game plan finally paid off in the 30th minute when the ball was not cleared well out of the box and it landed at the feet of Gaston Fernandez. Fernandez cooly finished from near the penalty spot, giving the away side a first half 1-0 lead.
The Timbers would carry that one-goal advantage into the locker room at the half.
Portland would get started again rather quickly in the second half. In the 58th minute, Steve Zakuani dribbled masterfully past three Sporting KC men and was tackled by Aurelien Collin in the box. Ricardo Salazar deemed this a penalty, which Will Johnson converted for the 2-0 lead.
Ten minutes later, Maximilliano Urriti found himself alone with Gruenebaum in the box. His shot was blocked by Gruenebaum, but the rebound squirted out of his hands and the net was open for Fernandez to score his second of the game.
Sporting would get a lifeline in the 72nd minute when Danny O'Rourke would be whistled for a handball in the box. Soony Saad would convert the penalty kick for his third goal in as many games and Sporting KC had cut the lead to 3-1.
Unfortunately for the home side, that score would be as close as they would get. Portland held their line for the rest of the match, holding on for the 3-1 victory. With the win, they advanced to the US Open Cup quarterfinals, where they will travel to either San Jose or Seattle, who are tied in extra time at time of writing.
Both Sporting Kansas City and Portland are back in action Friday night as the teams do battle once more, this time at Providence Park in MLS play.