Sporting KC play to draw with Portland Timbers: Melia Comes up Big

Sporting KC beat LA Galaxy
Kansas City, KS- Sporting Kansas City Goalkeeper, Tim Melia, reacts to saving Diego Valeri's penalty kick, late in the second half. July 1, 2017. Mandatory Credit- Henry Hauck

Kansas City, KS (July 1, 2017)- Sporting KC came in to today’s match sitting in first place in Western Conference. One of their marquee wins this season was a gritty 1-0 win in Portland against the Portland Timbers. The Timbers looked to get one back over on Sporting and had the early lead, but were unable to hold on.

Sporting KC play to draw with Portland Timbers

It was all Timbers in the first 10 minutes of the match. They had the high press working, Sporting couldn’t get out of the midfield. After a while they started getting their feet underneath them. A few close calls came for Sporting KC, but nothing every truly threatening came about their chances.

In the 26th minute, Portland Timbers got some time and space on a counter attack. Diego Valeri brought the ball up from the halfway line and just kept on dribbling towards the Sporting KC 18 yard box. For some reason, the Sporting backline just dropped off and allowed him plenty oF space to get a shot off. Valeri obliged, unleashing a thunderous shot that Tim Melia had absolutely no chance to get. A certain Goal of the Week nominee.

That was virtually it for the first half, which was easily one of Sporting’s worst halves of the season. They came out with quite the vengance in the second half, and got something out of it.

With a half hour to play, Sporting were pushing hard for the equalizer and got one from an unexpected hero. Roger Espinoza was given a ton of time from the Portland backline. While playing a high line, young Home-Grown product, Daniel Salloi made a perfectly timed run behind former Sporting member, Lawrence Olum. Olum couldn’t time his jump, Salloi took the perfect touch, and roofed it on Jake Gleeson.

The goal was Salloi’s first career goal in MLS play. Ironically, Espinoza was the one who played provider on his first career goal a few weeks back.

The big moment in this match came in the 73rd minute. Diego Valeri slipped the perfect ball into Fanendo Adi, who tapped the ball around Tim Melia. Melia stretched out and sprawled, and did not make contact. However, the Adi dive was executed to perfection and referee Allan Kelly fell for it.

Diego Valeri stepped up to the penalty kick, and attempted to put it right down the middle. Tim Melia read it to perfection and punched it away. Portland will be kicking themselves, as what should’ve been a second yellow to Adi for simulation, had a chance to be turned into the game winning goal.

The rest of the match was somewhat exciting, but lacked any clear chance moments. The final score was correctly indicative of the match that was played tonight.

Three Things

  1. Sporting KC probably should’ve brought on Jimmy Medranda for Gerso Fernandes, when the winger had to be subbed off after dislocating his shoulder during a challenge in the box. However, the guy Peter Vermes brought on to replace him was the guy who scored the game tying goal, so it’s somewhat of a moot point. Medranda’s energy and ability to hold possession was needed in the final third. But Salloi’s goal was quite well done, so something like this will get swept under the rug
  2. Portland is the first team that I’ve personally seen come into Children’s Mercy Park this season, and actually attempt to control the game and get forward. It worked, and sometimes I wonder why teams just concede and bunker in. Granted, Sporting have a heck of a home field advantage. Tonight they hit 20,933 in attendance, and recorded their 96th straight sellout.
  3. The last note here has to do with the Adi dive. Already on a yellow, if Alan Kelly had correctly given the simulation call, it would’ve been his second yellow, and a Red Card. If the MLS Disciplinary Committee comes in and suspends him, it would be the fifth time this season that Sporting KC has not been given the man advantage when warranted. That would add up to 264+ minutes this season where they should’ve been playing against 10 men and were not.

What’s Next?

Sporting KC take on the Philadelphia Union on July 6th for their last MLS game in a few weeks thanks to the “Gold Cup Break.” They do however have the US Open Cup Quarterfinal match at home against FC Dallas on July 11th.

Portland Timbers will take on Chicago Fire at home on July 5th in what will be a quick turn-around, plus travel for the Cascadia Club.


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