February 1, 2013 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Portland Timbers
TUCSON, Ariz. - A second-half goal by Jerome Mechack on a free kick lifted Sporting Kansas City to a 1-0 preseason victory over the Portland Timbers on Friday night at the Kino Sports Complex.
For a second straight preseason match, Timbers head coach Caleb Porter fielded separate lineups for each half and played 22 players against Sporting KC. Despite close scoring chances by Portland's Sal Zizzo and Ryan Johnson in the first half, the Timbers (1-1-0 preseason) and Sporting KC entered halftime scoreless. Mechack scored in the 63rd minute and Sporting KC (1-0-2 preseason) was just able to hold off Portland's second-half lineup to secure its first win of the preseason.
Following an extended break in play in the second half due to an injury to Soony Saad, Sporting KC was able to produce the game's lone goal shortly after the hour mark. A foul by Timbers midfielder Kalif Alhassan set up a free kick for Sporting KC on the right side, 35 yards out from goal. Mechack struck a low ball through the penalty area that eventually got past Portland goalkeeper Milos Kocic and landed inside the left post.
After going down a goal, the Timbers created several scoring chances in the second half looking to find the equalizer. Forward Bright Dike had a pair of chances moments after Mechack's goal. In the 69th minute, he forced Sporting KC goalkeeper Eric Kronberg, who played the second half, off his line and took a shot from a tight angle that deflected off the goalkeeper and toward an open net, but the ball was cleared off the goal line by defender Lawrence Olum.
Sporting KC endured a late surge by the Timbers in the final minutes, which included a looping header by defender Hanyer Mosquera just over the goal off a free kick in the 87th minute. The defender also had a shot from the left side of the box just miss the far side of the goal in second-half stoppage time.
Zizzo and Johnson had two of the Timbers' better scoring chances in the first half. After a cut back on the right side of the box, Zizzo lifted a shot over the crossbar in the 25th minute. He then forced a turnover in the 31st minute and set up Johnson for a shot at the top of the box that was saved by first half Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.
The Timbers face Seattle Sounders FC in their next preseason match on Tuesday, Feb. 5, at Kino Sports Complex. The match will be streamed live at www.portlandtimbers.com.