1. Sporting KC's luck in the shootout runs out.
Sporting Kansas City has won MLS Cup 2013 and the 2012 and 2015 U.S. Open Cup, all on penalty kicks, so its luck was bound to run out. But who could have imagined it could be this unlucky?
Twice, Sporting KC had a chance to win the game after saves by young Jon Kempin, a late-game replacement for the injured Tim Melia, and twice it was denied by the post, the posts -- plural -- on the second one.
In the sixth round, Ellis, whose tying goal was to blame for all the late-game madness, hit the post. Three rounds later, Saad Abdul-Salaam had a second shot at ending the drama and his shot incredibly hit off the post to his left and then to his right without the ball crossing the line.
The shootout went on so long that both keepers were called to the spot. Ghanaian goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey put his shot away and then saved Kempin's shot to give the Timbers the victory.
2. Subs rescue Timbers late in overtime
It would have a long offseason for the Timbers if they had lost at Providence Park, where finishing off games has often been a problem in recent years. Only three and a half weeks earlier, they had lost at home to Sporting KC, 1-0, on a goal by Krisztian Nemeth in the 83rd minute. They were leading on Rodney Wallace's goal in the 57th minute until Ellis broke free in the area to head home Graham Zusi's cross.
Things got worse for Portland when Nemeth hit a stunning goal to put Sporting KC, 2-1, in the 96th minute, but subs Dairon Asprilla and Urruti, two players who have relegated to seeing most of their action off the bench, rescued the Timbers. Asprilla controlled a throw-in on the right side of the penalty, turned and whipped a ball into the area to an unmarked Urruti, who blasted it home for the equalizer in the 118th minute.
3. Injuries take toll on Kansas City.
After winning MLS Cup 2013, Sporting KC has been knocked out in the play-in game the last two seasons. In late summer, it looked like Peter Vermes' boys could win the Supporters' Shield. By the end of October, they were lucky to be in the playoffs. Injuries took a heavy toll.
Ike Opara and Roger Espinoza were lost for the season to injuries long ago. Outside backs Chance Myers and Seth Sinovic were in and out of the lineup and couldn't go Thursday, forcing Vermes to start a pair of rookies, Amadou Dia and Abdul-Salaam, at the outside-back positions. The only other rookie who might start in the playoffs is Vancouver center back Tim Parker.
SKC was so depleted that the only field player Vermes brought off the bench was Jacon Petersonin the 110th minute. Kempin had entered the game in the 84th minute, and that was only after Melia very reluctantly left the game after taking a blow to the head from Wallace.
TRIVIA. The shootout was the longest in MLS history. Kwarasey is the sixth goalkeeper to score a goal in a shootout in the
Oct. 29 in Portland, Oregon
Portland 2 Sporting KC 2 (Portland wins 7-6 on penalties). Goals: Wallace (Valeri) 57, Urruti (Asprilla) 118; Ellis (Zusi) 87, Nemeth (Dia) 96.
Portland -- Kwarasey, Powell, Borchers, Ridgewell, Villafana, Jewsbury, Nagbe, Valeri, Melano (Fochive, 85), Adi (Urruti, 106), Wallace (Asprilla, 99).
Sporting KC -- Melia (Kempin, 84), Ellis, Dia, Besler, Abdul-Salaam, Feilhaber, Nagamura, Mustivar, Zusi, Nemeth (Peterson, 110), Dwyer.
Referee: Armando Villarreal.
1 POR: Valeri – Saved
1 SKC: Feilhaber – Goal (0-1)
2 POR: Borchers – Goal (1-1)
2 SKC: Dwyer – Saved
3 POR: Ridgewell – Goal (2-1)
3 SKC: Zusi – Goal (2-2)
4 POR: Jewsbury – Miss
4 SKC: Besler – Miss
5 POR: Urruti – Goal (3-2)
5 SKC: Nagamura – Goal (3-3)
6 POR: Villafaña – Saved
6 SKC: Ellis – Miss
7 POR: Asprilla – Goal (4-3)
7 SKC: Mustivar – Goal (4-4)
8 POR: Nagbe – Goal (5-4)
8 SKC: Peterson – Goal (5-5)
9 POR: Powell – Saved
9 SKC: Abdul-Salaam – Miss
10 POR: Fochive – Goal (6-5)
10 SKC: Dia – Goal (6-6)
11 POR: Kwarasey – Goal (7-6)
11 SKC: Kempin – Saved