Sporting KC beats Timbers 1-0.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) Sporting Kansas City made its path to the playoffs a little easier Saturday night.
Krisztian Nemeth scored in the 83rd minute to give Kansas City a 1-0 victory over the Portland Timbers.
Kansas City (13-9-9) moved up into the third place in the Western Conference standings. San Jose, with a 1-all draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night, pulled level in points with Portland (12-11-8) for sixth place and final playoff spot, but the Earthquakes hold the tiebreaker.
The Timbers have three games left while San Jose has two. Sporting has three.
Nemeth dribbled past three defenders and beat Timbers’ goalkeeper Adam Kawarasey for the lone goal, his 10th of the season.
”I thought we kept our composure, we kept our concentration throughout the game. And at the same time, we knew there was going to be a point where we could strike,” coach Peter Vermes said. ”I didn’t know it was going to be as good as Krisztian did, but that was a fantastic goal.”
The sellout crowd at Providence Park booed loudly when the match was final.
The Timbers dominated possession in the first half, keeping pressure on goalkeeper Tim Melia, but both sides were scoreless at the break.
Portland had a good chance in the 35th minute. Fanendo Adi fed to Darlington Nagbe out in front, but Melia dove to stop the shot. In the 65th minute, Melia made a kick save on a hard shot from Timbers forward Lucas Melano.
Melia had six saves on Saturday night for his eighth shutout. Last month Melia had a career-high seven saves in a 0-0 draw with the Timbers in Portland.
Portland coach Caleb Porter called the loss devastating.
”It’s really hard to swallow, no doubt about it,” Porter said. ”When you dominate like we dominated today – and we’ve had a couple games that were similar – and you end up losing or drawing and you leave the game empty handed, it’s hard to swallow for sure.”
Sporting played to a 1-1 draw at home to Seattle last weekend, but beat the Philadelphia Union on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw for the U.S. Open Cup title Wednesday night.
Nemeth also scored the second-half equalizer for Kansas City against the Union.
Melia, defenders Matt Besler and Kevin Ellis and midfielder Benny Feilhaber played all 120 minutes of that match, and started again Saturday night against the Timbers. Nemeth and Graham Zusi got the first half off, while Dom Dwyer was rested the whole match.
”I thought we did such a good job tonight. To come off a mid-week game, a mid-week final, we went into overtime and penalties, that’s really an emotional roller coaster,” Melia said. ”And to be able to come into a place like this, which is a really difficult place to play, and to get a result in the fashion we did, to be able to rest a few guys, it’s an incredible feat for our club.”
The Timbers were coming off a 2-1 victory at the Columbus Crew last Saturday that snapped a four-game winless streak.
Before the match the Timbers held a moment of silence for the nine victims of the Umpqua Community College shooting in Roseburg, Oregon, on Thursday.
The Timbers Army supporters’ group hung a banner with the black ribbon symbol and the letters UCC. Fans also displayed a heart-shaped banner about the players’ field interest that simply said ”Roseburg” with the image of a single rose.