The Portland Timbers battled back twice on Saturday April 27 against Kansas City, before Rodney Wallace grabbed the game winner for the Timbers in the second half, giving the Timbers their first away win of the season.
It was an explosive first half at Sporting Park, which saw Sporting KC take a very early lead forty seconds in when Chance Myers headed a long throw into the lower corner past a frozen Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
The Timbers Diego Valeri almost equalized in the 4th minute when Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen deflected Valeri’s close range shot off the cross bar.
Nielsen wasn’t as lucky in the 24th minute when Ryan Johnson found a well placed Valeri cornerkick, and skied over two defenders and powered the ball into the net to tie the game 1-1.
Sporting came right back to grab the lead for a second time when Myers scored his second goal of the game in the 29th minute after a brief scamble in front of the Timbers net.
Darlington Nagbe equalized it again for the Timbers in the 33rd minute when Valeri sent a long ball down the left flank ahead of Johnson, who ran on to it and found Nagbe racing into the goal mouth. Nagbe awkwardly deflected the ball past Neilsen to tie the game at 2-2.
Wallace got the game winner in the 58th minute after Diego Charra stole the ball in the Timbers offensive half of the field, fought off a defender and sent a beautifully weighted diagonal ball to a streaking Wallace who calmly slipped the ball past Neilsen.
The Timbers defense did the rest, bunkering down and protecting the lead. Timber’s keeper Ricketts came up with another huge save in stoppage time to preserve the victory.
After defeating Sporting KC, who held first place in the MLS Eastern Conference bofore the Timbers came to town, the Timbers face the New England Revolution on Thursday May 2 before traveling to take on the current Western Conference leading FC Dallas on May 8th.
The Timbers group of offensive players, Johnson, Nagbe, Wallace and Valeri created and found space all night and looked continually dangerous against a tough KC defense. Previously Sporting had only conceded 5 goals in 8 games. The Timbers racked up 3 in one night.
Valeri was once again the maestro in midfield for the Timbers, delivering a perfectly placed corner kick on the first goal, sending Johnson into space that led to Nagbe’s goal and playing beautiful little passes with teammates throughout the game.
Although he conceded two goals, Ricketts was instrumental in the victory for the Timbers. Rickett’s save last week against San Jose on Chris Wondowlowski was named MLS Goal of the Week, the third time he has won the award this season. His quick reaction, one-handed stop on a glancing header in the second minute of stoppage time is sure to garner a nomination again this week.
Man of the Match: There were certainly a lot of heroes for the Timbers in this match who should get consideration: Ryan Johnson, who got the first equalizer, assisted on Nagbe’s second goal and battled gamely all evening with one of the leagues top defenders Aurellien Cullen; Diego Valeri, who orchestrated the Timbers offense and picked apart one of the top defenses in the league; Diego Charra who was everywhere in defensive midfield and had the steal and assist on the game winning goal; Darlington Nagbe, who is starting to show flashes of brilliance and is capable of more than any other player, and showed some of it in this match. But in the end the award this week goes to Rodney Wallace who not only coolly beat Neilsen on the game winning goal, but also had a great shot that Neilsen had to save that lead to Valeri’s corner and the first tying goal. Wallace is really settling in to his role as the winger/forward on the left side in Caleb Porter’s system and continues to step up and create huge chances for his team.