A complete turnaround from Tuesday's US Open Cup performance saw Sporting KC score a first half goal, then hold a strong Portland attack en route to a 1-0 win in The City of Roses.
The win for Sporting KC propelled them back into a tie for first in the Eastern Conference and marked their second straight MLS win.
Portland almost went on the board early on a truly beautiful play. Darlington Nagbe sent in a perfect through ball to Fanendo Adi, who put the ball in the back of the net but was whistled offside. It was a call of mere inches and one that certainly could have gone either way.
Sporting Kansas City would provide the first and only strike in the 24th minute. A long throw into the box from Seth Sinovic fell to the foot of Lawrence Olum, who turned and put in a nice finish past Ricketts for the goal. It was his first goal of the year and it put the away side up 1-0.
Portland would continue to harass the Sporting KC defense for the rest of the first half, getting one more close shot in just as the half closed. The shot would be blocked in the box by the Sporting KC defense, however, and they retained the lead going into the half.
Adi would continue to be the focal point of the attack in the second half, barely missing a header toward goal in the 54th minute. His height was giving Sporting KC problems due to their lack of height on defense, but they still had moments where they either held strong or Adi missed his header.
Sporting KC did not have enough players to fill a full bench tonight, only bringing 16 players. This injury concern grew even larger when Lawrence Olum had to be subbed off in the 56th minute after he felt a tweak in his hamstring. CJ Sapong came on due to lack of options in the defensive midfield.
The Timbers would provide a frantic rest of the second half, controlling possession and forcing the game into Sporting KC's half. They would end up controlling 67% of the possession and uncharacteristic stat for Sporting KC to be on the negative end of. The Timbers, however, were still unable to put a ball past Sporting KC's back line.
In the 82nd, Caleb Porter pushed for a result with all his strength as he subbed in forward Maximilliano Urutti for defender Michael Harrington. Despite the extra attack, the Timbers were not able to put one past Kronberg and Sporting KC held on for the 1-0 win.
This game helped propel Sporting KC back into a first place tie and kept them in the race for the Supporters Shield. After their performance Tuesday, this turned into an unexpected three points for Sporting KC but they showed they can still do well even when missing five starters. They are back in action nine days from now as they host the Chicago Fire in a Sunday matinee.