PORTLAND — Maybe the Portland Timbers deserved a good break. Perhaps Sporting Kansas City was due for a bad one.
Because on Saturday at Jeld-Wen Field — for one of the first times this Major League Soccer season — The timbers got a bit of luck and made it count.
The goal went in off of Kansas City defender Chance Myers in the first half, and the Timbers made that stand up for a 1-0 win. The result broke a four-match losing skid for Portland and was the first blemish in eight matches for Kansas City.
“That’s a big weight off our shoulders,” Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins said. “It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t clean. But we said before it’s going to be a dogfight and it wasn’t going to be pretty.”
It nearly turned very ugly for the goalkeeper. In the final minutes, a long throw-in from Kansas City slipped through Perkins’ mitts. Defender Hanyer Masquera, who was solid all night, cleared the ball out of the goal mouth.
“Bit of a mess there that I made,” Perkins said. “But we’re there for each other now.”
The Timbers needed to play with spirit, both to match Kansas City and to take ownership of Jeld-Wen Field, team captain Jack Jewsbury said. Portland had 16 fouls to 12 for KC, didn’t shy away from physical confrontations, and make Sporting Kansas City try to force the attack from long range.
The result was less than beautiful soccer. What the contest lacked in artistry, it had in ferocity. Sporting Kansas City brought a league-best 7-0 record and a reputation for aggressive play into Portland. To earn the win, the Timbers needed to play with emotional and physical toughness throughout.
“I thought every single guy on the team tonight put in a full 90,” Jewsbury said, applauding his teammates’ sacrifice. “It’s nice to see smiles on people’s faces after the game.”
The goal came in the 41st minute. Two Kansas City players tried to clear away a cross from Portland’s Kris Boyd, but they collided and the ball went into the goal off the head of Myers.
There was not a Timber within striking distance. Boyd’s cross sailed beyond any green-shirted attackers, but, facing the goal line, the KC defenders did not know that.
“I think you kind of make your own luck,” Jewsbury said.
The play that produced the goal started with Boyd winning the ball in the air and nodding it down for
Diego Chara. Chara immediately sent the ball up the right wing, springing Boyd behind the defense.
That fortunate bounce was enough because Portland limited its mistakes down the stretch, and had teammates in position to cover as Kansas City pushed forward late in the game.
Jewsbury said he pulled his team together during an injury break with about 15 minutes to play and reminded them of the stakes. His message:
“This is the time we have to prove it, not only to ourselves and to everyone else, that we can close games out and get a shutout.”
TIMBERS 1, SPORTING K.C. 0
Sporting K.C. 0 0—0
Portland 1 0—1
First half—1, Portland, Myers (own goal), 42nd minute.
Goalies—Sporting Kansas City, Jimmy Nielsen; Portland, Troy Perkins.
Yellow Cards—Purdy, Portland, 22nd; Palmer, Portland, 43rd; Collin, Sporting Kansas City, 66th; Boyd, Portland, 81st; Besler, Sporting Kansas City, 88th.
Sporting Kansas City—Jimmy Nielsen, Chance Myers, Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Roger Espinoza, Bobby Convey (Teal Bunbury, 72nd), Graham Zusi, Julio Cesar (Paulo Nagamura, 76th), Kei Kamara, C.J. Sapong.
Portland—Troy Perkins, Lovel Palmer, Eric Brunner, Steve Purdy (Freddie Braun, 78th), Mike Chabala, Hanyer Mosquera, Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara, Darlington Nagbe (Franck Songo’o, 89th), Kris Boyd, Jorge Perlaza (Eric Alexander, 84th).