Portland Timbers 2 (7), Sporting Kansas City 2 (6) | MLS Match Recap
PORTLAND, Ore.—The Portland Timbers beat Sporting Kansas City at their own game Thursday night at Providence Park.
The home team managed to pull out a dramatic 7-6 penalty-kick victory that came down to a sudden-death showdown between the two teams' goalkeepers, and a bizarre double-post miss by Saad Abdul-Salaam that would have given Sporting the win.
In the end, Timbers 'keeper Adam Kwarasey slammed home his effort and then saved the attempt from Sporting youngster Jon Kempin, who was forced into the game in the 84th minute after starter Tim Melia came off due to injury.
The Timbers now move on to the Western Conference Semifinals against No. 2 seed Vancouver Whitecaps, a two-leg series that starts Sunday in Portland.
The first half proceeded scoreless, but physically, marked by 17 combined fouls (nine for Sporting) – which in the second half, flared into a brief scrum between the two sides after a Sporting foul.
Portland opened the scoring in the 57th minute courtesy of Rodney Wallace, when a Nat Borchers header at the top of the box fell free in the area. Wallace broke away from a crowd and poked it past Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia, making for Portland's first goal against SKC in four meetings this season.
Sporting's attack eventually had Portland reeling – temporarily. Kevin Ellis did the first part, with an 87th-minute corner-kick header goal delivered on a platter by Graham Zusi. And then, after a 1-1 draw at full time, Krisztian Nemeth played would-be hero again, scoring a dagger in the sixth minute of the first extra-time period.
But magic returned for Portland, two minutes from the final extra time whistle. Dairon Asprilla took a throw-in at the right edge of the penalty area, spun, and sent a pin-point across the center of the box that Maximiliano Urruti headed home to send the crowd into hysterics.
With the score tied, 2-2, the penalty-kick shootout started, eventually proceeding into sudden death and 'keeper Kwarasey's game-winning goal. (Watch a condensed version of the entire shootout.)
Portland last advanced to the Western Conference Championship in 2013, and after Thursday night's dramatic win, they've notched another opportunity to return.