Match Recap

Recap: Sporting KC falls 1-0 on road in season opener

Sporting Kansas City (0-1-0, 0 points) fell to the Portland Timbers (1-0-0, 3 points) on Monday at Providence Park in a 1-0 loss on the road in cold and rainy conditions to open the team’s 2023 campaign. An early goal in the sixth minute would prove to be the difference in a tightly-contested Western Conference clash that saw both sides missing key players due to injury.

Manager Peter Vermes remained without Designated Players Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda as both continue rehab from knee injuries that sidelined them for the 2022 season, while Sporting was also missing club captain Johnny Russell (hamstring) and newcomer Nemanja Radoja, as well as defenders Kortne Ford (Achilles) and Logan Ndenbe (hamstring).

The opening 45 minutes saw a pair of scoring chances, each in short succession, for either side with the Timbers starting the match on the front foot. Jaroslaw Niezgoda pounced on an errant backpass in the fifth minute and attempted to round Sporting KC goalkeeper John Pulskamp. The 21-year-old would get the better of the 1v1 – taking the ball off the foot of the Polish striker – then recovered to make a strong save to keep out Marvin Loria’s follow-up attempt.

Undeterred, the home side took an early 1-0 lead moments later as Colombians Juan Mosquera and Yimmi Chara combined on a give-and-go. The 20-year-old Mosquera would strike for the fastest goal of the young MLS season, taking a touch before turning and firing low beneath Pulskamp for his first career MLS goal on an assist from Chara – who would be forced to exit the match injured in the 32nd minute.

Sporting Kansas City’s defense did well to respond – not allowing a shot for the remainder of the first half – while the team’s attack nearly leveled the score with back-to-back opportunities in the 24th minute from Designated Player Erik Thommy. Wearing the captain’s armband in the absence of Johnny Russell, Thommy connected with a cross from Khiry Shelton for a first-time effort that was turned away by David Bingham then forced a fingertip save from the Portland goalkeeper on a blind chip that was tipped over the crossbar.

Thommy would continue to be a spark for Sporting and his service from a corner kick in the 60th minute found Roger Espinoza at the near post. The 14-year MLS veteran rose high to flick a header toward the far post however the effort was directed just wide of the target.

In the 73rd minute, German left back Tim Leibold made his debut for Sporting Kansas City as a second-half substitute and was immediately involved as the Timbers worked their way down the right channel. Nathan Fogaca’s played a clever backheel into the path of Marvin Loria, whose shot was stopped by Pulskamp from close range.

Sporting Kansas City pressed forward in the final 15 minutes in search of an equalizer and on three separate occasions came close to finding the breakthrough goal. Shelton did well to force a save from Bingham in the 76th minute on a well-weighted pass from Marinos Tzionis before Bingham was called into action again a minute later. Zusi’s ball into the box was headed down by Willy Agada and settled by Salloi, who placed a volley on target but Bingham dove to his right to keep it out.

Sporting’s final look to level the scoreline came in second half stoppage time as Felipe Hernandez delivered a corner to the top of the six-yard box, where Agada muscled off his mark only to see the header fly inches past the near post.

Pulskamp would produce his third and final save of the night as Fogaca – who had attempted to delay a Sporting restart only to then be immediately sprung on the counter – carried the ball 40 yards at full speed. The 23-year-old Brazilian had scored twice against Sporting on his debut in 2022 but could not add to the scoresheet this time around as his shot was turned away by the outstretched left arm of Pulskamp.

Sporting Kansas City will continue the 2023 campaign with a road trip to face the Colorado Rapids at 8:30 p.m. CT on Saturday at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado. The match will stream live on Apple TV for MLS Season Pass subscribers and will be shown at the club's official watch party at No Other Pub (1370 Grand Blvd.) in the Kansas City Power & Light District -- highlighted by a happy hour starting at 6:30 p.m. CT on Saturday -- as well as other pub partners in the Sporting Pub Network.

2023 MLS Regular Season | Match 1
Providence Park | Portland, Oregon
Attendance: 22,925
Weather: 39 degrees and rainy

Sporting Kansas City 0-1 Portland Timbers
Sporting Kansas City (0-1-0, 0 points)
Portland Timbers (1-0-0, 3 points)

Sporting Kansas City: John Pulskamp; Graham Zusi, Robert Voloder, Andreu Fontas, Ben Sweat (Tim Leibold 73'); Remi Walter, Roger Espinoza (Felipe Hernandez 70'), Erik Thommy (C) (Marinos Tzionis 71'); Khiry Shelton, Willy Agada, Daniel Salloi

Subs Not Used: Kendall McIntosh, Robert Castellanos, Kayden Pierre, Chris Rindov, Jake Davis, Cam Duke

Portland Timbers: David Bingham; Dario Zuparic, Justin Rasmussen, Zachery McGraw, Juan Mosquera; Eryk Williamson (Cristhian Paredes 80'), Evander, Diego Chara (C), Yimmi Chara (Santiago Moreno 33'), Marvin Loria (Diego Gutierrez 80'); Jaroslaw Niezgoda (Nathan Fogaca 62')

Subs Not Used: Claudio Bravo, Eric Miller, Pablo Bonilla, Aljaz Ivacic, Larrys Mabiala

Scoring Summary:
POR - Juan Mosquera 1 (Yimmi Chara 1) 6'

Misconduct Summary:
SKC - Erik Thommy (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 16'
POR - Dario Zuparic (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 26'
POR - Eryk Williamson (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 73'
POR - Evander (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 89'

Match Statistics
Shots on Goal
Corner Kicks

Referee: Tim Ford
Assistant Referee: Mike Rottersman
Assistant Referee: Kevin Lock
Fourth Official: Mark Allatin
VAR: Edvin Jurisevic
AVAR: Tom Supple