One for the ages! Timbers win 7-6 in dramatic 11-round penalties to advance in playoffs
The Portland Timbers advanced to the Conference Semifinals 7-6 on Penalties after 2-2 draw against Sporting Kansas City in a match that is not likely to be forgotten for a very long time.
The Timbers had all the momentum early on, with early chances being stopped by the Sporting defense on the line, and headers going just wide and just over the bar. The match was also going to be a physical one, with a hard tackle by Kevin Ellis on Diego Valeri in the 10th minute setting the tone.
Portland’s Fanendo Adi had a great chance to put the Timbers on the board in the 37th minute when Alvas Powell made a great run from midfield and played him through open into the box, but Sporting goalkepeer Tim Melia charged off his line deflect Adi’s chip attempt. Though the Timbers had an 8-2 shot advantage in the first half, the match was level at the break.
The Timbers would finally break through in the 57th minute when Rodney Wallace jumped on a free ball that Valeri was trying to control, and pushed the shot past Melia and just into the bottom left corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.
Sporting Kansas City would lose their starting goalkeeper Melia when Wallace kicked Melia’s face while they were both challenging for a free ball, and Melia was forced to leave several minutes later and be replaced by Jon Kempin.
It looked like the lead might hold, though the Timbers were packed in for the final 15 minutes of the match and never attempted to keep any possession, and that would come back to haunt them three minutes from stoppage when Kansas City put in a second cross off a cleared corner kick, and Ellis had put some space between himself and Timbers defender Nat Borchers and headed low into the bottom left corner to level the score and send the match into overtime.
Six minutes into overtime, the visitors would shock the home faithful when Krisztian Németh made a deep run down the left side into the Timbers box, then turned the ball to his right foot and made a spectacular curling tight-angled shot into the top right corner of the net to put Sporting up 2-1.
But the Timbers weren’t done yet and three minutes from overtime stoppage time, a sharp cross deep in the Sporting box by Dairon Asprila found Maximiliano Urruti open near the far post, and he one-timed the shot into the net to tie the score at 2-2 and force penalty kicks to decide the match.
Penalties were even after each team had taken five chances, and Sporting had their first chance to win in the sixth round after Jorge Villafaña had been saved, but Ellis hit the left post on the miss, and the Timbers stayed alive. In the ninth round, Powell also missed for the Timbers, and Saad Abdul-Salaam also had a chance to win the game with a penalty, but his shot would incredibly hit the left post, bounce down the goal line then hit the right post before bouncing again across the goal mouth and out.
It would come down to the goalkeepers in the eleventh round of penalties as Portland’s Adam Kwarasey blasted his chance just inside the left post, but Kempin was not able to keep the match going, with Kwarasey pushing his shot wide left, and the Timbers had pulled of a miracle escape in their first-ever league or Open Cup shootout win and advance to the Conference Semifinals against Vancouver.