Goals from Hungarian forwards Krisztian Nemeth and Daniel Salloi helped Sporting Kansas City (10-15-8, 38 points) to a 2-2 draw against the Portland Timbers (13-13-7, 46 points) in the club’s home finale at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday night.
Portland struck first through Sebastian Blanco, but Nemeth conjured an instant first-half equalizer before Salloi opened his 2019 scoring account early in the second period. The Timbers would salvage a badly needed result—keeping hold of sixth place in the Western Conference and moving two points above the playoff line—when substitute Dairon Asprilla buried a late penalty to deny 10th-place Sporting its first victory of the month.
The entertaining battle produced three red cards as Portland striker Brian Fernandez and Sporting duo Roger Espinoza and Ilie Sanchez received their marching orders, ruling them out for the final matchweek of the regular season.
Manager Peter Vermes’ men will now prepare for their last match of the 2019 campaign next Sunday against FC Dallas—one of 12 MLS contests slated to kick off simultaneously at 3 p.m. CT—with live coverage on FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX Sports Midwest and FOX Sports GO.
Four days after seeing their club-record eight-year playoff streak snapped in a narrow loss at Minnesota United FC, Sporting seized early initiative on Sunday and nearly went ahead in the sixth minute. Gianluca Busio, who rattled the woodwork versus Minnesota, was again thwarted by the crossbar after his venomous 20-yard blast had Portland goalkeeper Steve Clark rooted to the turf.
Vermes’ side accounted for the first nine shot attempts of the game, but Portland gradually found a foothold and threatened in the 25th minute when Renzo Zambrano’s measured ball through the middle was volleyed inches wide by Fernandez. The Timbers would convert their next chance, however, when Blanco slammed a right-footed curler past Tim Melia after Marvin Loria’s initial attempt was blocked by Ilie.
Portland held their 1-0 lead for all of 84 seconds, as Sporting wasted no time restoring parity with a well-worked goal on the half-hour mark. Espinoza spread the ball right to Russell to Russell, whose pinpoint cross into the mixer was nodded home by Nemeth for his first goal since May 18. The tally moved Nemeth into a tie for the 2019 team lead with 12 goals across all competitions, while Russell recorded his club-leading 10th assist.
Petulance marred proceedings shortly before halftime as both sides were reduced to 10 men. A fiery confrontation involving several players prompted referee Alan Chapman to issue Fernandez a straight red card, and Espinoza was ejected less than a minute later after Chapman consulted video review for a second look at the altercation.
Salloi bagged his cathartic first goal of the season less than 60 seconds into the second half. The active Busio saw yet another shot hit the post, but Salloi settled the rebound and coolly tucked a shot past Clark for his first goal in exactly 10 months, having scored in the second leg of the 2018 Western Conference Championship against the Timbers.
Bolstered with confidence, Salloi nearly added his second in the 54th minute. Russell did well to chase down a defensive clearance from Botond Barath and sent a lovely diagonal ball to his forward partner, who beat Jorge Villafana only to see a toe-poked effort turned away by Clark. Twenty minutes later, substitute Gerso had a fleeting chance to double the hosts’ advantage, but his attempt was blocked through traffic.
A bitter twist in the tale brought Sporting to nine men in the 84th minute when Ilie hauled down Jeremy Ebobisse, denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity. Chapman’s brusque showing of a red card was met with a chilly reception from fans, but Asprilla was nonetheless clinical from the penalty spot to tie the game and split the points.
2019 MLS Regular Season
Game 33 of 34
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Weather: 81 degrees and partly cloudy
|Sporting Kansas City (10-15-8, 38 points)||1||1||2|
|Portland Timbers (13-13-7, 46 points)||1||1||2|
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Botond Barath, Ilie Sanchez, Luis Martins; Felipe Gutierrez, Roger Espinoza (C), Gianluca Busio (Matt Besler 85'); Johnny Russell (Gerso Fernandes 60'), Krisztian Nemeth (Erik Hurtado 73'), Daniel Salloi
Subs Not Used: Eric Dick, Jaylin Lindsey, Seth Sinovic, Jimmy Medranda
Portland Timbers: Steve Clark; Zarek Valentin, Claude Dielna, Bill Tuiloma, Jorge Villafana; Marvin Loria (Jeremy Ebobisse 55'), Diego Chara (C); Andy Polo (Dairon Asprilla 58'), Renzo Zambrano (Jorge Moreira 89'), Sebastian Blanco; Brian Fernandez
Subs Not Used: Aljaz Ivacic, Marco Farfan, Cristhian Paredes, Diego Valeri
POR -- Sebastian Blanco 5 (unassisted) 29'
SKC -- Krisztian Nemeth 8 (Johnny Russell 9, Roger Espinoza 3) 30'
SKC -- Daniel Salloi 1 (unassisted) 46'
POR -- Dairon Asprilla 1 (penalty kick) 85'
SKC -- Felipe Gutierrez (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 35'
SKC -- Brian Fernandez (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 35'
POR -- Brian Fernandez (red card; violent conduct) 36'
SKC -- Roger Espinoza (red card; violent conduct) 38'
POR -- Renzo Zambrano (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 60'
POR -- Sebastian Blanco (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 65'
POR -- Zarek Valentin (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 72'
SKC -- Botond Barath (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 75'
SKC -- Tim Melia (yellow card; time wasting) 81'
SKC -- Ilie Sanchez (red card; denial of obvious goal scoring opportunity) 84'
|Shots on Goal||5||6|
Referee: Allen Chapman
Assistant Referee: Adam Wienckowski
Assistant Referee: Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho
Fourth Official: Lorant Varga
VAR: Armando Villarreal
AVAR: Jozef Batko