Back in the starting lineup for Sporting Kansas City after the injured Graham Zusi had started the previous two, right back Jaylin Lindsey celebrated his well-taken 28th minute goal with feeling. Yet, the rest of the match would bring feelings of being hard done by the fickleness of fate for the 21-year-old, and his team, as Kansas City went on to fall 2-1 to Portland Timbers Saturday evening at Portland’s Providence Park.
The goal – a top corner finish to the near post – came from a superlative effort by forward Alan Pulido to keep the ball alive at the end line after the Mexican’s shot had been blocked. Feeding back and diagonally, Pulido’s found Lindsey who scored his second career goal (and second this season) for a rare early lead for the visitors.
A recent pause in the MLS schedule for international friendlies and competitions meant a break for each side, though Sporting returned last week for a 1-1 draw at home to Austin FC, tonight’s hosts had not played since their 3-0 loss at Philadelphia Union on May 30.
Thus, Kansas City came in looking to increase the momentum of their four-match unbeaten streak that has pushed them within a point of Western conference leaders Seattle Sounders, while Portland looked to build momentum from a 3-4-0 start to the still young season.
For their first match at Providence Park since September 7 of 2019, Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes went with the following lineup in front of goalkeeper Tim Melia: (from right to left) backs Jaylin Lindsey, Ilie, Andreu Fontas, and Luis Martins; midfielders Roger Espinoza, Gianluca Busio, and Felipe Hernandez; and forwards Johnny Russell, Alan Pulido, and Daniel Salloi.
A fast-paced, somewhat end-to-end match went, unfortunately for Sporting, compelling in the 36th minute. Off a free kick, the Timbers’ Dairon Asprilla hit a shot that caromed off Lindsey and fell fortuitously right back to the Colombian who finished past Melia to level the match.
The worst of all knife twists came in first half stoppage time. Trying to clear a ball in Kansas City’s box, Fontas missed the ball with his left, allowing Costa Rican Marvin Loria to touch past a present Melia. Lindsey alertly arrived near the goal mouth endeavoring to stop the dangerous ball. However, the ball struck his trailing leg, sending it towards his own goal where the persisting Loria knocked the ball home. Lindsey’s misfortune was emblematic of Kansas City’s and the visitors would never recover, though not without trying.
The 56th minute was a flurry of chances for Sporting as the ball pinged in front of Portland’s net. Russell and Hernandez had the best strikes, Hernandez’s just wide, his reaction the head to hands. The flurry was reflective of Portland’s chances. But the ball would not bounce Sporting’s way.
Pulido put a strong chance into the outside netting in stoppage time and Russell danced through the right side only to see his cross go unheeded a few minutes later.
Luck would not be a lady on this night, instead the fickle mistress turned her back.
Sporting will now quickly turn their attention to Colorado Rapids who will come calling Wednesday at Children’s Mercy Park.