MATCH PREVIEW: Sporting face tough road test in Portland
The Portland Timbers return home looking to end their record losing streak - and stop Sporting Kansas City's record winning run - when the clubs meet Saturday evening at JELD-WEN Field. The Timbers have lost an MLS club-record four in a row, after their 3-1 defeat at the LA Galaxy last weekend. Sporting have started the season with seven wins in seven games, beginning their Pacific Northwest road trip with a 3-1 win in Vancouver at midweek.
The Portland Timbers went down to a fourth consecutive defeat, conceded a pair of late goals in a 3-1 loss to the LA Galaxy on Saturday evening at The Home Depot Center. The Timbers are in ninth place in the Western Conference with 4 points from 5 games.
HIGHLIGHTS: Timbers' 3-1 loss to Galaxy
- The Timbers broke in the 23rd minute. Eric Alexander sent a through ball behind the Galaxy back line and Kris Boyd ran onto it before slotting home with a low shot from just outside the area.
- The Galaxy pulled even in the 44th minute. Streaking down the left side after receiving a through ball from Todd Dunivant, Robbie Keane rounded Eric Brunner in the corner before finding Landon Donovan, who buried a shot past Troy Perkins from inside the area.
- The home side then took the lead for good in the 83rd minute. After a flurry of pressure around the Timbers area, Juninho latched onto a half-clearance and hammered a low rocket from beyond the area.
- The Galaxy added the exclamation point in stoppage time when David Beckham added another goal to his highlight collection, bending the ball into the top corner from 25 yards out to beat Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
- Timbers head coach John Spencer made four changes to the team that fell to a 2-1 loss to Chivas USA at JELD-WEN Field. Steve Purdy, Hanyer Mosquera and Mike Chabala all came into the back four for Lovel Palmer, Andrew Jean-Baptiste and Rodney Wallace, and Kalif Alhassan started in midfield for Franck Songo'o.
- PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-4-2): Troy Perkins - Steve Purdy, Hanyer Mosquera, Eric Brunner, Mike Chabala - Kalif Alhassan (Franck Songo'o 58), Diego Chara, Jack Jewsbury (Lovel Palmer 74), Eric Alexander - Darlington Nagbe, Kris Boyd (Jorge Perlaza 81).
Timbers prepared for tough SKC
The Timbers have lost a club-record four consecutive MLS matches after their 3-1 defeat by the LA Galaxy last weekend.
"I think I still believe that we have quality, and we have quality to win the games," said Timbers head coach John Spencer. "For me confidence is obviously a big factor when you have a losing streak and it's the same the other way when you go on a winning streak and you feel unbeatable. I think we performed at times, played some real good football and it's unfortunate with a 3-1 scoreline against."
Kris Boyd scored for a second consecutive match, now with three goals in his first MLS season.
"I go into every game looking to score a goal," said Boyd. "Our possession is key. The Galaxy are one of the better clubs in America but no different than any other team. Like I said before the most important thing is to get the three points and we're disappointed not to get that."
The Timbers have now conceded eight goals in the past three games. Spencer changed both fullback positions for the Galaxy match, giving both Steve Purdy and Mike Chabala their first starts of the season.
"Losing can become a habit as well as winning," Spencer said. "The easiest thing for us to do right now as a coaching staff and as a playing staff is feel sorry for yourself. Odds are they're going to put it right. And you've got to try to pick them up for the game."
The Timbers have also conceded five of their 11 total goals in the final 15 minutes of games. "It's just as frustrating as the other ones. It's time to stop talking and just get winning. Eliminate mistakes," said Darlington Nagbe.
This week, the club announced the signing of Sebastian Rincon on loan from Uruguayan first-division side Club Atletico Atenas. Rincon, 18, played in the youth system of Colombian side Deportivo Cali and youth club soccer in the U.S. before starting his professional career in 2010 at the age of 16 with the reserve team of Colombian club Independiente Santa Fe.
- "Sebastian has been training with us since preseason, and is a young player with tremendous potential," said Spencer. "He has a good pedigree and possesses good size and athleticism. We are happy to have him and hope to continue his development as a player."
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City made it 7-for-7 to start the 2012 season, beginning their Pacific Northwest road trip with a 3-1 win against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Wednesday evening at BC Place. Sporting have 21 points from 7 matches to lead the Eastern Conference.
HIGHLIGHTS: Sporting keep rolling against 'Caps
- Sporting took the lead 24 minutes into the game. KC had maintained possession following a corner, and Graham Zusi's cross found Aurelien Collin, who headed back to Roger Espinoza. The Honduran international's shot ricocheted off a defender and back into Collin's path who poked the ball across the line from close range.
- Kansas City doubled the lead in the 51st minute. Whitecaps FC center back Martin Bonjour, while defending a Matt Besler throw-in, attempted to direct the ball back to goalkeeper Joe Cannon while being pressured by Collin -- only to chest the ball into the corner of the goal.
- Fourteen minutes later Kei Kamara sealed the victory for Sporting, finishing a cross from Chance Myers. Kamara started the play by passing the ball out wide to Myers, and the fullback returned the favor for Kamara to flick home at the near post.
- The home side got a goal back in the 80th minute. A Camilo shot came back off the bar and rebounded to Sebastien Le Toux to head in from close range, as Sporting 'keeper Jimmy Nielsen was just unable to keep it from crossing the line.
- Sporting head coach Peter Vermes made one change to the team that defeated Real Salt Lake 1-0 at Livestrong Sporting Park. Paulo Nagamura came into the midfield in place of Julio Cesar.
- SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-3-1): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Paulo Nagamura (Lawrence Olum 77), Roger Espinoza - Kei Kamara, Graham Zusi, Bobby Convey (Jacob Peterson 52) - C.J. Sapong (Teal Bunbury 62).
On the Spot: Favorite Karaoke Song?
Sporting continue to get closer to the all-time unbeaten record for wins to start a season. The LA Galaxy went 12-0 in 1996, winning the first nine in regulation time (two in all in a shootout), and the 1998 LA Galaxy started 9-0, winning the first game in a shootout.
Sporting are also chasing the record for an unbeaten run to start the season, also 12 games, set by the '96 LA Galaxy, the 2010 Kansas City Wizards and 2010 LA Galaxy (both 10-0-2).
"One of the biggest things was we were starting to get tired at the end due to the travel and the short turnaround from our Saturday game," said Sporting manager Peter Vermes. "The good thing was that lately we've been in the environment where we've been up and teams have thrown a lot at us and today we handled this situation really well."
Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen saw his shutout streak snapped at 414 minutes with Sebastien Le Toux's goal 10 minutes from the end, the second-longest in MLS this season (behind Vancouver's 426-minute stretch to start the season.
"The big difference for us tonight was the play of Jimmy (Nielsen). His saves at the end were tremendous and I think at the end of the day that's what saved us because the last 10 minutes they were really on us," said Vermes.
Coming into the match, Nielsen had been called upon to make seven saves total, and had gone 315 minutes without seeing a single attempt on target until late in the Real Salt Lake match. Against Vancouver, Nielsen saw a total of 19 shots, seven on frame.
"They created some good chances and when they scored it gave them a lot of energy," said Nielsen. "I kind of had nothing to do the last couple of games until today. We kind of knew that it would be tough up here today. I prepared myself a little different today. I was pretty sure that I would be in action today. I can have a full paycheck next time."
With Julio Cesar injured, Vermes made a change in his lineup for the first time since the second game of the season when KC took on New England at home.
"Obviously, he's an important guy for the team," Vermes said of Julio Cesar. "But at the same time - as I've told you guys millions of times - the biggest thing for me when we have muscle injuries, we need to shut a guy down and make sure he's 100 percent before we bring him back out."
Collin has now scored in back-to-back games, while Kamara hit for the fourth time in six games. "We had to get something going on the counter. We were in good places on the field to get the own goal, and then for Kei to get in there and get on the end of that pass and finish it off, that was huge," Vermes said.
REFEREE: Hilario Grajeda. SAR (bench): Kermit Quisenberry; JAR (opposite): Paul Scott; 4th: Sorin Stoica
MLS Career: 62 games; FC/gm: 24.4; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 14; pens: 9
- PORTLAND TIMBERS - OUT: GK Joe Bendik (R knee meniscus surgery); FW Eddie Johnson (concussion); DOUBTFUL: MF Kalif Alhassan (R knee sprain); DF Futty Danso (L foot fracture); GK Jake Gleeson (R knee IT band tightness); DF David Horst (R hip surgery); MF James Marcelin (L hamstring strain); DF Rodney Wallace (L ankle sprain)
- SPORTING KANSAS CITY - OUT: GK Eric Kronberg (lower back injury); MF Julio Cesar (R hamstring strain); DOUBTFUL: DF Cyprian Hedrick (R Achilles tendinitis)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: none
ALL-TIME (2 meetings): Timbers 0 wins, 2 goals ... Sporting KC 2 wins, 5 goals ... Ties 0
AT PORTLAND (1 meeting): Timbers 0 wins, 1 goal ... Sporting KC 1 win, 2 goals ... Ties 0
LAST YEAR (MLS):
7/2: POR 1, KC 2 (Nagbe 45 - Sapong 15; Collin 19)
8/17: KC 3, POR 1 (Zusi 25, 40; Saad 72 - Dike 81)
- This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
- Sporting KC won both meetings a year ago in the Timbers' first MLS campaign, winning 2-1 at JELD-WEN Field on July 2.
- Coaches record: John Spencer vs. KC: P2 W0 L2 D0 ... Peter Vermes vs. POR: P2 W2 L0 D0