Timbers defeat Sporting KC 1-0 on own goal
Originally published April 22, 2012 at midnight, updated April 22, 2012 at 1:27 a.m.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins said he couldn't help thinking about Portland's late lapses this season going into the final minutes against undefeated Sporting Kansas City.
But the Timbers held on for the 1-0 victory Saturday night, snapping Sporting's seven-match winning streak.
"It definitely gets one off our backs," said Perkins, who earned his 50th career win with the shutout.
In the end, it was an own goal that spoiled Sporting Kansas City's perfect season. Chance Myers headed the ball past goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen in the 41st minute to give the Timbers the victory.
Sporting KC had won seven straight and was Major League Soccer's only undefeated team heading into the match against the struggling Timbers. The record for most victories to start a season is 12, set by the Los Angeles Galaxy in 1996, the league's inaugural year.
"Look, I hate losing, but I have to put into context. If we came in here and didn't play well I think the guys would be feeling a bit different," Sporting coach Peter Vermes said. "Overall, I think our guys are happy with the way they played."
The victory snapped a four-game losing streak for Portland, who hadn't won since a 3-1 victory at home over Philadelphia in the season opener.
The Timbers (2-4-1) were coming off a 3-1 loss at the Los Angeles Galaxy the previous Saturday. It was the third straight match in which they had surrendered an early lead. Two of those losses came at Jeld-Wen in the final minutes to Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA.
"At the end of the day, everyone fought from minute 1 to minute 90," Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury said.
Sporting (7-1-0) was coming off a 3-1 victory at Vancouver on Wednesday. The match against the Timbers wrapped up a stretch of three games in eight days for the team, which now gets two weeks off.
"I did like the way we came in here and still got the output we did tonight. It's not easy when you play away from home in this game," Vermes said. "We will take these two weeks off which will be good for us to prepare for our next game."
It was a physical match on both sides from the start. Portland goalkeeper Troy Perkins, wearing neon orange, fell on the ball for a save after being challenged by Kei Kamara, Sporting's top scorer with four goals, in the ninth minute.
There was a flurry of activity midway through the first half when Steve Purdy was handed a yellow card for a tackle on Roger Espinoza in the 23rd minute. Perkins tipped away a free kick by Graham Zusi in the 25th, and Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen stopped Eric Brunner's free kick on the other end a short time later.
But the match was scoreless until Portland went up on Myers' own goal off a cross from Kris Boyd. Myers lay prone on the turf in frustration for several moments after the error.
The two teams got chippy in the second half after Sporting defender Aurelien Collin leveled Portland's Purdy with a kick. Collin was yellow carded.
Perkins almost got beat by Collin in stoppage time, but again the neon-clad goalkeeper laid down on the ball to stop the attack. Perkins faced 16 shots and had two saves.
"I think everyone in this locker room who took part in this game can walk out of here with their head held high," said Boyd.
Timbers fans lingered in the stadium cheering long after the match ended.
Portland Police handed out flyers to fans entering the game seeking information on the hit-and-run death of Nancy Schoeffler, who was stuck on March 31 at about 11:20 p.m. on a street near Jeld-Wen Field. It was the same night the Timbers lost 3-2 at home to Real Salt Lake.
Police say Schoeffler was hit by a black sedan and shortly thereafter two women, possibly wearing Timbers hats, were reported arguing in a grocery store parking lot about two miles away.
The Timbers put information about the case on the video scoreboard during breaks in the match.
On Friday, Timbers forward Eddie Johnson retired after a 10-year professional career in England and the United States. The 27-year-old Johnson joined the Timbers before their inaugural season last year but has been hampered by injuries, including a third concussion in six months in February.
Johnson's career started at 17 with Manchester United and he appeared with the first team during the 2003-04 season.
The Timbers also acquired forward Mike Fucito from the Montreal Impact in a trade Friday, but Fucito was not yet with the team on Saturday.
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