BY MIKE DONOVAN
For their three MLS seasons, the Portland Timbers have been searching for a statement road victory. And a statement win is exactly what the club delivered Saturday against Sporting Kansas City.
In one of the more entertaining games of the MLS season, Portland knocked off host Sporting Kansas City, 3-2, in front of a sellout crowd at Sporting Park.
Sporting Kansas City twice took the lead on goals from Chance Myers, but was unable to hold off the Timbers attack. Ryan Johnson, Darlington Nagbe, and Rodney Wallace found the back of the net for the Timbers, who got just their fourth road victory in 38 MLS away matches.
For all the talk in Timbers camp of being a new team in 2013, the club had yet to deliver a signature victory. While home wins against Houston and San Jose were nice, a victory in Kansas City signifies a massive change in the Timbers culture.
The Timbers almost left the midwest with a draw, but Donovan Ricketts got his right hand on a Aurelien Collin header during stoppage time to preserve the victory. Ricketts save capped a roller-coaster match that saw Sporting Kansas City go ahead 43 seconds into the match.
While the smoke from pre-game fireworks lingered on the field, Myers headed in a Matt Besler throw-in. It was Myers first career MLS goal and he doubled his career total 28 minutes later after a SKC free kick.
But Myers goals were not enough to stop a Timbers team that turned its high pressure into three goals. For the first time in 2013, Portland did not hold the edge in possession, but that will be an afterthought to gaining the three points.
Ryan Johnson delivered both a goal and an assist for the Timbers and was a major pain to the Kansas City backline. The Jamaican International was able to use his speed to beat Collin on multiple occasions including on the buildup to his assist on Nagbe’s goal.
After a four-goal first half, the winner came 13 minutes after the restart with Rodney Wallace finding the back-of-the net after a midfield SKC turnover. Wallace is enjoying the best stretch of his career and has been a key part in the Timbers current six-game unbeaten streak. The streak is the longest in the club’s MLS history.
Sporting Kansas City also took more shots than Timbers (18 to 12), but the club dropped its second straight match. It was also the first time this season that Sporting Kansas City has conceded at home.
Sporting Kansas City (4-3-2, 14 points) will look to bounce back next Sunday when Chivas USA visits Sporting Park. Meanwhile, the Timbers (3-1-4, 13 points) will return home to take on the New England Revolution in a Thursday night matchup at Jeld-Wen Field.
Here are the game highlights: