HOW IT PLAYED OUT
Three days removed from a midweek cup match played in miserable conditions, and down three starters to international duty, plus a fourth later in the first half to injury, a letdown wasn't out of the questioning entering Saturday's Western Conference clash with the Portland Timbers.
For an hour, it appeared that was going to be the case, too.
But of all players available, it was 20-year-old Daniel Salloi who made sure the home side would at least walk away with something at home, with Tim Melia providing relief late to secure a 1-1 result.
Replacing an injured Gerso midway through the first half, Salloi would get the derailed wheels back on track in the second half. With the help of a pin-point ball over the top from Roger Espinoza, and a confident first touch in traffic, Salloi calmly placed his shot in the back of the net to equalize in the 61st minute.
Melia showed up big not long after with a stone-cold save on Timbers lone goalscorer Diego Valeri. The veteran midfielder got his chance after Melia appeared to clip Fanendo Adi inside the box, though replays indicated that little or no contact was actually made.
Valeri was eyeing a brace after opening the scoring in the 26th minute with a rocket from outside the box that gave an out-stretched Melia little time to react. The skilled midfielder looked surprised to see green in front of him in a dangerous spot after a long, steady run up. Kevin Ellis was the de facto last lifeline, but he backpedaled in an attempt to play both the ball and the run behind him.
The early deficit wasn't enough to wake the home side in what was a messy and sluggish first 45 minutes. Heading into the locker room at halftime, The Timbers out-possessed Sporting KC 51-49 percent, out-shot them 5-2 (2-0 on-goal) and were more consistent in the attacking half despite never fully imposing their will on the match.
The Timbers were the better side throughout, but couldn't put the game away in the second half, and that ultimately left the door open for a surprising equalizer in what otherwise was a forgettable performance.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Salloi's touch and finish has to be commended, but it's moot if Melia doesn't step up in the 74th minute with what proved to be the decisive moment of the match. Valeri's attempted chip wasn't perfectly struck, but Melia appeared to have an idea of what was coming. Melia continues to show why he's been the most consistent keeper through the first half of the MLS season.
GERSO INJURY UPDATE
Gerso was forced off with a dislocated shoulder midway through the first half after crashing to the ground inside Portland's penalty area. A Sporting KC spokesperson said the shoulder was popped back into place shortly after leaving the field. Such an injury typically carries a 2-3 week absence, though further tests are expected to confirm a recovery timeline for the winger.
GIF OF THE MATCH
Home against the Philadelphia Union on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.