Entertaining and Sports Programming Network Football Club (ESPN FC) pundits hailed the nail-biting playoff between the Kansas City Sporting and the Portland Timbers as being the best Major League Soccer (MLS) playoff penalty shootout in the history of the MLS competition. Although Sporting Kansas City lost in the end, the game itself will be one that goes down in MLS history.
The game, although not great in terms of technical prowess, showed great spirit by both teams. Initially the Timbers were up 1-0 after the 57th minute. Then Kevin Ellis pulled a goal back for Sporting in the 87th minute, leading to extra time.
Extra time led to even more excitement with Kristian Nemeth scoring a goal for Sporting in the 96th minute. It looked like Sporting had found their way to a comeback despite losing their starting goalkeeper, Tim Melia, to injury before extra time began. However, it was not meant to be. Just two minutes before the end of extra time the Timbers scored, which led to the game being decided on a penalty kick shootout.
Things then became even more interesting with all 11 players on the field at the end of extra time taking penalty kicks. Sporting KC hit the post twice, and one of those shots managed to hit both posts and still not fall into the back of the net. The Timbers ultimately won on a penalty kick and a save from their goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey.
While Sporting KC did not end up winning the game and continuing in the competition, they did have the chance to be part of one of the most back and forth games in MLS playoff history. Both Sporting KC and the Portland Timbers fans can agree that the game is an instant classic. While many Sporting fans are upset that they did not win, they can at least take solace in the fact that enriching the history of the league is not altogether a loss.