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Sporting KC draws Portland in third preseason match

Portland scores late to level it at 3-3

Wilson Harris continues his scoring ways
Thad Bell

Sporting Kansas City and the Portland Timbers settled for a 3-3 draw in Arizona Wednesday. Sporting KC received goals from Khiry Shelton, Wilson Harris and Roger Espinoza but was unable to hold on for the victory.

Despite early pressure and some close attempts from Daniel Salloi, Sporting KC and Portland almost made it to halftime scoreless if it were not for a nice goal from Shelton. Starting at center forward with Alan Pulido in camp with the Mexican National team, Shelton sliced into the box shouldering off his defender. The timely run connected with a cross from Luis Martins to redirect it past the Timbers keeper in the 44th minute.

While the Timbers left their starters in to begin the second half, Sporting KC fielded a new 11. The second set of players did not take long to add to the lead. Homegrown midfielder Felipe Hernandez’s free kick initially was redirected by draft pick Matt Constant down off of a defender. Wilson Harris cleaned it up making it a 2-0 lead and his fourth goal of preseason.

Portland did not take long to claw a goal back. Some poor back passes led to Felipe Mora headed in alone on Kendall McIntosh. Despite recovering well and deflecting the ball wide of goal, the referee awarded a penalty. Diego Valeri had little trouble scoring from the spot and making it 2-1 in the 52nd minute.

Two Homegrown players contributed to the buildup of SKC’s third goal when Grayson Barber slid the ball forward to midfielder Cam Duke who played it wide. Harris wisely let the ball continue on to Roger Espinoza. The veteran midfielder curled the ball around the run of Harris and the Timber’s defenders where it gently dropped over Portland’s leaping keeper.

Dairon Asprilla cut the lead to one when 18-year-old SKC Academy defender Kayden Pierre was unable to hold off the Colombian attacker. Asprilla stepped around a challenge from McIntosh and put it into an empty net.

The Timbers leveled it at three all in the 88th minute when SKC could not clear a free kick and despite stopping one attempt, McIntosh was unable to stop Bill Tuiloma from knocking it in at close range.

SKC manager Peter Vermes pointed to poor play in the second half for giving up the lead. “The second half we started strong, go up 2-nil and then we had two self-inflicted wounds. Two very poor balls that were routine plays, you can’t give up goals like that, no matter what level you are.”

“The third goal only happened because we continued to play backwards as opposed to play on the front foot and we kept going backwards and we put ourselves in a bad position and get a foul,” Vermes continued. “Then we are not well organized on the set piece which then puts us in a bad position and they then tie the game. We should have never been in that situation; we should have comfortably walked away with the game.”

Vermes did attribute some of the overall play to it being preseason training and how hard the players have been worked. “Were still a little bit sluggish, not as sharp as I would like us to be but obviously we’ve still got time and we are overloading the guys a bit right now physically so it’s to be expected.”

SKC finishes off their preseason matches on April 3rd when they take on the LA Galaxy. It will be the first match of the preseason where fans will be allowed and with the possibility of streaming fans in Kansas City may get to see some the match as well.

Sporting Kansas City vs. Portland Timbers

March 24, 2021 – Kino Sports Complex (Tucson, Ariz.)

Sporting Kansas City 3, Portland Timbers 3

Scoring Summary:

SKC – Khiry Shelton (Luis Martins) 44’

SKC – Wilson Harris (Unassisted) 48’

POR – Diego Valeri (Penalty Kick) 52’

SKC – Roger Espinoza (Cam Duke) 64’

POR – Dairon Asprilla (Unassisted) 66’

POR – Bill Tuiloma (Unassisted) 88’

Sporting Kansas City Lineups

First Half: Tim Melia; Jaylin Lindsey, Kaveh Rad, Andreu Fontas, Luis Martins; Ilie Sanchez, Gianluca Busio, Remi Walter; Johnny Russell, Khiry Shelton, Daniel Salloi

Second Half: Kendall McIntosh; Kayden Pierre, Matt Constant (Graham Smith 70’), Roberto Puncec, Amadou Dia (Travian Sousa 75’); Felipe Hernandez, Roger Espinoza, Cam Duke; Grayson Barber (Ozzie Cisneros 81’), Wilson Harris, Tyler Freeman