It was a night full of returns for Sporting Kansas City, featuring three players returning from injuries of various lengths. It also featured the return of an earlier scoreline from April as Sporting KC battled to a 0-0 draw with the Portland Timbers.
Sporting KC and Portland both maintained their sports in the Western Conference at fifth and sixth place respectively, however they did reach the same point total as fourth-place Seattle Sounders with only goal differential separating the teams. Sporting is in the best position with two games in hand against both teams.
While the match was not full of scoring, there were several noteworthy plays, most of which were by Tim Melia. The Sporting KC keeper made seven saves on the night, including two coming up and intercepting Timbers' forwards getting in alone on goal and a couple snap saves off of headers. The one time he didn't get the save, Kevin Ellis was there to clear the ball off the line to preserve the tie.
The biggest story from the match, however, was the returns of several players from injury. Soni Mustivar started the match at defensive midfielder, a position that Sporting KC has been woefully missing him from the past few games. His reappearance made Sporting more composed and patience in the middle, giving them an ignitor on the offensive end and a shield on defense.
In the second half, Sporting KC subbed on Jalil Anibaba for his first appearance since July. Anibaba was missed in his last couple of months due to Sporting KC's woes defensively, especially with little to no depth with him and Ike Opara out for significant periods of time. His return marked a solid addition to Sporting KC's back line during the home stretch.
The final return was Bernardo Anor, who has been out with a variety of injuries since April. Sporting KC's wing situation was dire as well with Krisztian Nemeth on national team duty and neither Jacob Peterson nor Connor Hallisey contributing much. Anor's return gave Sporting KC a reliable depth piece to turn to these last two months of the season.
The scoreline didn't do much for Sporting KC, considering it kept them in the same place in the Western Conference. However it kept Portland from leapfrogging them in a tough environment and featured several returns that will benefit Sporting KC in the long run.