[MLS SPOTLIGHT] On another busy day of friendlies and Concacaf club games, three league matches produced impressive wins for Portland and Sporting Kansas City -- and yet another tie for Chicago, for which Mexican midfielder Pavel Pardo scored in his debut.
STRONG SHOWING. After starting the season with 10 road games, of which it won just one, Sporting Kansas City knew it had to make a heavy slate of home matches at Livestrong Sporting Park count.
It posted a huge home win Wednesday by beating Real Salt Lake, 2-0, despite playing a man down for most of the second half. The red card went to midfielder Roger Espinoza in the 56th minute after he and Teal Bunbury scored five minutes apart in the first half.
SKC ran its unbeaten streak to 14 games and maintained its unbeaten home mark (4-0-4). At 7-6-9 overall it has tied New York for third place in the Eastern Conference with 30 points. RSL (9-5-6, 33 points) stays fifth in the West.
REVIVAL IN THE ROSE CITY? Five straight wins at Jeld-Wen Field jolted Portland’s start to its MLS tenure before it hit a skid of six consecutive home matches it either tied or lost. There were scattered boos last Saturday after the Timbers blew a 2-0 lead to Toronto and ended up tied, 2-2.
A visit by the overall points-leading Galaxy inspired the Timbers to get back their mojo and thrash L.A., 3-0. Mike Chabala and Jorge Perlaza scored five minutes apart to forge a 2-0 halftime lead and Eric Brunner headed in a corner kick midway through the second half. It was just Portland’s second win since May 18.
The victory raised Portland's record to 7-10-4 and moved it past San Jose into seventh place in the Western Conference. But it is still shy of a playoff spot and 20 points behind the top team in MLS, which is 12-3-9.
NEW-LOOK DEADLOCK. Carlos Ruiz is on his way out of Philadelphia, with a move to Mexican club Veracruz in the works, and did not travel with the Union to Toyota Park, where Philly and the Fire played a 1-1 tie.
Pavel Pardo lashed home Chicago's goal as he and Argentine playmaker Sebastian Grazzini made their MLS debuts. Grazzini gave way in the 66th minute to another midseason signing, Cristian Nazarit. Seldom-used Union striker Veljko Paunovic, starting up top in place of Ruiz, uncorked a 30-yard blast in the 34th minute to give Philly a 1-0 lead that Pardo's shot matched.
Chicago (2-6-13) took over the league lead from New York in tied matches. Philadelphia (8-5-8) is two points behind Eastern Conference leader front-runner Columbus.