The atmosphere at Children's Mercy Park was, as always, sublime. But thunder and lightning were looming near, the rain poured down, the pitch was in rough shape, and the play on the field eventually followed suite.
It was ugly.
Cynical tackles, injured players down in the mud, bloody shirts, and almost-fights.
It was awesome.
The Portland Timber's keeper, Jake Gleeson, had an absolutely fantastic afternoon with five saves. The home side could have scored three or four if not for his efforts between the posts. But Jacob The Answer Peterson was again the hero for Sporting KC as he gave his team another three points with a set piece header to open the second half.
SKC was content to move the ball around and feel out the visitors to begin the match. The Timbers were without key defender Nat Borchers, and KC was patiently waiting for the Portland back line to open up. But play was sloppy on both sides with rain falling on the slick field.
The best chance of the first half came when Portland was unable to properly clear a corner kick. The ball bounced around and fell to Feilhaber deep inside the box. He fired on frame, unfortunately I mean that literally and the ball ricocheted high into the air before falling into the Cauldron.
The budding rivals would enter the break tied at zero.
The stalemate would be broken in the 50' minute off a Benny Feilhaber free kick. After trying to take it quick, the referee upset Benny by calling it back. But SKC's number-ten sent in a perfect ball that Peterson flicked to the far post. Gleeson dove to his left but this time it was out of his reach. The Answer ran to the corner to celebrate the 1-0 lead and his second goal in as many matches.
Sporting KC continued the pressure and was all over the Timbers for the first 20 minutes of the half. Dwyer forced a corner with a powerful strike, Olum was denied by a phenomenal save and Abdul-Salaam was denied by the post on the follow up. KC was hungry for a second.
Things began to get really chippy and a parade of yellow cards ensued. Jimmy Medranda, who was very emotional with his mother in the park, had to be restrained by multiple teammates and eventually earned a yellow that will see him suspended the next match.
Portland did not go quietly. They were scratching and clawing their way to an equalizer and they almost got it in the 90' minute. Jack McInerney found himself in space charging towards goal and he opened up his hips to curl a shot around Kann. The Sporting KC net-minder was beaten, but the shot hit the crossbar in the exact same spot Feilhaber hit in the first half.
As the match was coming to a close, Ike Opara and Fanendo Adi would get tangled up for the second time of the day. Opara had to change jerseys because his chin was cut so badly after an unintentional elbow from Adi the first time around. Opara would take another elbow from Adi and then bump him as he was coming off the pitch to mend the wound. The referee saw it, but didn't think it deserved a yellow. Ike was then subbed off for Chance Myers to close out the final moments
The referee finally blew his whistle for full time and SKC had earned another three points, and another shutout. The win is the fifth home victory in a row and keeps Sporting Blue in 4th place with a 10-10-4 record. The night saw a milestone for Peter Vermes as he won his 100th career regular season match as manager for the club.
Next up both sides head over to Portland for
the second leg another match next Sunday at 3pm.