In many situations, the downfalls we all suffer lay at our own feet. So it's fitting that the best start in Sporting Kansas City's history ended as they fell on the their own blade. A header by Chance Myers with very little pressure issued from behind found its way into their own net and that was all the Portland Timbers needed to end the streak.
Before I talk about all of Sporting's mistakes, credit should be given to Portland for the win. While Sporting maintained a majority of the possession, the Timbers succeeded in limiting their chances at goal. In the fifth minute was their best chance as CJ Sapong muscled his way along the end-line and found Kei Kamara at the top of the six. Kamara seemed unsure of his shot, and took a weak shot off his left that went straight to Joe Perkins.
Chance Myers is still looking for his first MLS goal, but didn't expect to get on the score-sheet in this manner. The 41st minute cross seemed to be harmless with Darlington Nagbe far from the spot Myers was set to receive it. However, Julio Cesar came in with his foot to clear it away as well, and that was enough to break Myers concentration on the ball. It is a tribute to the defense so far this season that the best two shots on Kansas City's goal have been by Seth Sinovic last week and Myers this week.
Other than that the Timbers threatened only on occasion. Once, they caught Sporting KC on the break, but even in their best chance Kris Boyd was foiled by Jimmy Nielsen. The backline constantly had trouble with Portland's speed, but that rarely resulted in good chances for the Timbers. Neither team had much influence in the midfield as the game was played largely on the flanks, thus the lack of shots on goal and quality chances for either side.
The substitutions did little good or ill for either side. Portland had to make injury substitutions and then time wasting subs, and none of these players made those failures that have plagued Portland late in matches this season. For Sporting, Paulo Nagamura looked better than Julio Cesar, but Portland was sitting deeper and allowed him much more time on the ball. Teal Bunbury came on for Bobby Convey, which moved Sapong out to the wing. This at first was quite awkward because Sapong is not a winger. So Sapong played far too deep in an effort to not neglect his defensive responsibility only occasionally making forays forward. Eventually this pretense was abandoned, and all of the attackers abandoned their positioning to get into the box in attack. This provided the most opportunities in the match, but none paid off for the visitors.
It was too much to expect an undefeated season and the pressure is now off which should allow Peter Vermes to tweak his lineup a bit in the next couple of weeks. Expect heavier doses of Jacob Peterson, Paulo Nagamura, and Teal Bunbury as the team tries to keep their legs fresh over the long season.