Sporting Kansas City fell 2-0 against the Portland Timbers on Saturday in the opening match of the Desert Friendlies preseason tournament at Kino North Stadium in Tucson, Arizona. Gaston Fernandez and Michael Nanchoff scored for the Timbers, while Adam Kwarasey and Jake Gleeson combined for the clean sheet.
Manager Peter Vermes utilized 27 players over the course of the 90-minute exhibition while resting Graham Zusi, Roger Espinoza, Ike Opara, Chance Myers and Saad Abdul-Salaam amidst the wet conditions. In addition, captain Matt Besler and homegrown goalkeeper Jon Kempin were unavailable while participating in the U.S. Men’s National Team January Camp.
The Timbers proved most dangerous from set piece opportunities on Saturday. Norberto Paparatto was on the end of a corner kick from Fernandez in the 21st minute and saw his header cleared off the line. A dozen minutes later, Fanendo Adi was the recipient of a set piece from Fernandez but directed his header wide of the far post.
The game’s opening goal came from the penalty spot in an attempt converted by Fernandez in the 30th minute. The Argentine, who scored seven goals in his first MLS season in 2014, earned the penalty after having his shot handled inside the 18-yard box.
Portland doubled their lead in the 53rd minute on Nanchoff’s free kick from 20 yards out. The Generation adidas and University of Akron product struck his shot off the near post and into the back of the net after Maximiliano Urruti was brought down on the edge of the penalty area.
Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia, acquired in the offseason and inserted at halftime on Saturday, made back-to-back saves in the 74th minute to highlight his 45-minute appearance. His first stop came on a close-range attempt from Urruti before recovering to deny George Fochive seconds later.
Sporting Kansas City will continue their 2015 preseason schedule on Feb. 9 against USL Premier Development League hosts FC Tucson before departing for Kansas City on Feb. 10. The team will then return to Tucson, Arizona from Feb. 15 through March 1 to participate in the 2015 Desert Diamond Cup.
2015 MLS Preseason
Kino North Stadium | Tucson, Arizona
Weather: 51 degrees and rainy
POR – Jorge Villafana (caution; reckless tackle) 22
SKC – Santiago Otero (caution; reckless tackle) 40
POR - Gaston Fernandez (penalty kick) 30
POR – Michael Nanchoff (unassisted) 53
Sporting Kansas City: Luis Marin (Tim Melia 46); Kevin Ellis (Christian Duke* 60), Jalil Anibaba (James Marcelin 30, Erik Palmer-Brown 60), Brent Griffiths* (Daniel Rodriguez* 60), Seth Sinovic (Amadou Dia** 17); Paulo Nagamura (Santiago Otero* 30, Jorge Claros 60), Servando Carrasco (Mikey Lopez 30, Felipe Hernandez*** 60), Benny Feilhaber (Jimmy Medranda 30, Tony Rocha** 60); Krisztian Nemeth (Alex Dixon* 30), Dom Dwyer (Jacob Peterson 30, James Rogers** 60), Bernardo Anor (Connor Hallisey 30)
**Unsigned 2015 MLS SuperDraft selection
***Sporting KC Academy player