Reaction as Sporting KC thrashed by Portland Timbers
By Nathan Dunn
For just the third time in club history, Sporting Kansas City conceded seven goals in a game. The game was described as 'undisciplined and disgraceful' by manager Peter Vermes and captain Johnny Russell in the postgame press conference.
It came in a 7-2 loss on the road against the Portland Timbers on Saturday, May 14. After a 12th minute header from Bill Tuiloma put Portland in front 1-0, SKC goalkeeper Tim Melia came in clutch on multiple occasions with some big saves to keep the Timbers within reach. The visitors were perhaps even the better side, holding 57% of the ball and outshooting Portland 6-3.
The second half was a different story. Portland added a second goal less than 30 seconds in. That was followed by two more after 56 minutes. Johnny Russell managed to pull one back with an immediate response to going to 4-0, making it 4-1 with over half an hour remaining.
"We were just so easy to beat. How many of their goals were one pass?" Russell said. "Probably the majority of them were one pass through all of us and they’re in on goal."
Portland went up 5-1 before both teams were reduced to 10 men after Josecarlos Van Rankin and Robert Voloder were shown second yellow cards on separate incidents. Between the two incidents, Marinos Tzionis opened his MLS account with a header to pull SKC within three. Portland added two more in the final minutes, making it 7-2 before the final whistle.
It was the second 7-2 defeat in club history, previously dropping to the LA Galaxy by the same score towards the end of the disastrous 2019 season. One of the things both games had in common: SKC conceded six in the second half of both games.
"To concede six goals in one half of a game is – I’m trying to choose my words carefully here -- it's not even embarrassing," said Sporting KC captain Johnny Russell. "It's so far beyond that. It’s just a complete disgrace as a professional, individually and as a team. That second half is so unacceptable on so many levels."
Russell continued, "I've never been as embarrassed in my whole career. I've had some low times in my career but this is number one. Already this season hasn't been acceptable. Just pathetic really in the second half. Not good enough. Actually, I'm embarrassed to call ourselves professionals."
The club's only worse defeats came when the Wizards suffered a 7-0 defeat in 2001 against Chicago Fire, followed by a pair of 6-0 defeats to FC Dallas in 2019 and 2009. It is safe to say that Saturday night was a very low moment for the club.
Here was some of what Vermes thought about the game: "Just a horrible second half with the counterattack goals; very undisciplined for us to try to get back in the game after we started the second half and gave up a goal in the first 15 seconds or whatever it was. I don't know the exact time but it was short. From that point on, we're chasing the game and we were just undisciplined. We were getting countered because we were shoving way too many guys forward."
Vermes said, discussing the two goals SKC scored, "They really didn’t mean that much. We were getting back into it a little bit. We were kind of there but we were pushing too many guys forward undisciplined."
"We mentally broke; so fragile and it showed," Russell said. "You can't concede six goals in a half and not mentally break. It's not possible. And for me that's obviously one of the most disappointing things. Obviously the result, even thinking about the scoreline makes me feel sick to be honest. But that's probably the worst part. Mentally, it just looked like we gave up and that's just not acceptable in any level whatsoever."
With three wins from 12 games, Sporting now sits 12th in the West with the worst goal difference in MLS. Needing to turn a brutal season around, SKC will host the seventh-place Colorado Rapids on Wednesday, May 18.