Western Conference Finals: Sporting KC and Timbers Play to Scoreless Draw in First Leg

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Western Conference Finals
PORTLAND, OR - NOVEMBER 25: Diego Valeri #8 of Portland Timbers reacts to a call during the first half of the match against the Sporting Kansas City at Providence Park on November 25, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

PORTLAND, Ore.- Sporting KC and the Portland Timbers played to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the Western Conference Finals. A scoreless draw, yes. But a lack of action and chances? Definitely not.

The Timbers had the better of the chances in the first half. Jorge VillafaƱa hit the post inside the first ten minutes of the match. Matt Besler made a few massive clearances that broke up Portland’s attack as well. Sporting KC did their best to weather the first half, and specifically Portland’s press.

Diego Valeri and the wide players were doing a much larger share of the pressing action in the first half of the match, making it difficult for Sporting KC to play out of the back like they’d have liked to. Ilie Sanchez coudn’t find the ball as much and in turn, Sporting couldn’t play their transition game. If this was a boxing match, the “first round” of the “four rounds” in this bout would’ve gone to Portland. No score, but plenty of chances and positivity. Then, things changed in the second half.

Sporting KC came out of the locker room flying and Johnny Russell missed a huge chance to put Sporting KC ahead. His left footed curler went over the bar from just inside the 18 yard box. That was more of the life in the second half. Sporting KC’s defense was doing a good job.

The Timbers thought they had gone ahead in the 70th minute after they bundled home Diego Valeri’s free kick. But, the AR signaled for offside and upon replay, Liam Ridgewell was offside when the ball was played, and he was the one who had sent it towards goal. A good overturn from the referee’s crew.

Sporting KC had another couple good chances that were cut out in the area by Jeff Attinella, and Liam Ridgewell. Tim Melia saved the last of the big chances with a flying stop off Tuiloma’s header.

Three Things

  1. Sporting KC should feel pretty good about going home for the second leg. A win, and they’re into the MLS Cup Final. They’ve lost at home only three times in the last two and a half years, and they get their current starting striker back. Rubio will provide a much bigger threat in the second leg as he returns.
  2. Portland might be kicking themselves. They had the chances to set up the second leg that they wanted, and they couldn’t convert. Sporting KC are a different animal at home, and it will take a strong performance on short rest to get the job done on the road.
  3. None of either teams players in danger of missing the second leg due to yellow accumlation picked up a yellow. Diego Valeri escaped one, and Roger Espinoza stayed clear of any yellows as well. Both teams will be at relative fulls strength for the second leg. Portland will be without Larrys Mabiala who went down untouched in the first half with a bad leg injury.

 

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