Between the U.S. Open Cup and MLS, it’s no wonder that Sporting Kansas City looked exhausted in Saturday night’s game against the Portland Timbers. With a lineup that featured replacements for Graham Zusi, Matt Besler, and Dom Dwyer, who scored his first goal for the USMNT earlier today, it could be expected that Kansas City would show some issues with cohesiveness. However, it all came to a head in the 26th minute, when Diego Valeri found a open pocket about 25 yards out, and took his time with a rocket past Tim Melia.
Absolute Golazo for Valeri! Can we blame Kevin Ellis for this? Lots of space... #SKCvPOR pic.twitter.com/63HWDawIo6— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) July 1, 2017
Just a few minutes later, Gerso got into a bit of a skirmish with Alvas Powell and landed awkwardly. He reportedly dislocated his shoulder, and was sent off to be replaced by Daniel Salloi.
Another look at Gerso's injury. Sure looks like a PK. Might be his right elbow injury the way arm planted into the ground. #SKCvPOR pic.twitter.com/I3OyHWxn0s— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) July 1, 2017
The second half showed a much more energized Sporting Kansas City side. Just a few minutes into the half, Ike Opara had a chance at his second goal in two weeks, when a free kick from Benny Feilhaber came into the box, but his powerful header went wide.
Benny with a perfect(!) delivery to Opara who sends it JUST WIDE!! So Close! Portland up 1-0 still. #SKCvPOR pic.twitter.com/5UykYdurrN— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) July 2, 2017
In the 58th minute, Diego Rubio made his second appearance for Sporting after tearing his ACL last season. Rubio had a few chances near the goal, but nothing significant.
However, another new face this season had a moment to celebrate in the 61st minute. Daniel Salloi scored his first MLS goal off a long ball from Roger Espinoza. One quick touch in the box and a rocket into the upper right corner put Sporting KC back in the game.
WORLD CLASS TOUCH AND FINISHED FOR SALLOI!!!! His first in regular season play! @danielsalloi #SKCvPOR pic.twitter.com/5vBtfeVF01— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) July 2, 2017
It looked like the Timbers might take the lead again just twelve minutes later, when Adi broke away in the box. Tim Melia came off his line to stop him, and was whistled for a PK.
There’s some debate as to whether this should have been a PK in the first place – from one angle, it looks as though there was no contact at all, and from another, it looks like Melia nabs Adi’s back foot as he tries to pass.
Here is the PK "foul." Looks like Adi trips over his own legs. Thank goodness Melia makes the save! #SKCvPOR pic.twitter.com/AF0AE1nXFZ— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) July 2, 2017
Either way, it didn’t end up mattering, because Diego Valeri shot right down the middle – right into the arms of Tim Melia, for his third PK save of the season.
TIM F#&$ING MELIA!!!!! The soccer gods say no!! @TimMelia28 #SKCvPOR pic.twitter.com/10NHSs7bWy— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) July 2, 2017
The second half of this match was definitely encouraging for some of the players we don’t see often for Sporting Kansas City. While they only walked away with one point, with a tough first half like the one we saw here, one point is probably what we deserve.
Sporting KC returns to MLS action on Thursday against the Philadelphia Union at Children’s Mercy Park. Kickoff is at 7:30 CT.