For all the progress the Portland Timbers have made this year under new head coach Caleb Porter, they had not won on the road. Facing one of the best teams in the league -- who are especially tough to be at home -- this hardly seemed like the week that run would end.
Maybe the Timbers really have turned a page, as they came out with a 3-2 win over Sporting Kansas City on Saturday. Not only did they win, but the Timbers twice came from behind and overcame two goals from Chance Myers.
The win showed that the Timbers are not just a time that can win when the circumstances are ideal or are content to simply play for a point on the road. Myers scored the first of his goals in the 1st minute and seemed well on their way to victory. But Ryan Johnson answered with a goal in the 24th minute.
Myers and KC came roaring back with another go-ahead goal in the 29th minute, but the Timbers got another equalizer just four minutes later. This time Johnson set up Darlington Nagbe, who deftly positioned his body even though the pass was behind him to beat Jimmy Nielsen.
This was the exact kind of match the Timbers have not been able to win up until now. The Timbers had only won three road games in their entire MLS history until now and beating Sporting KC immediately becomes their biggest road accomplishment -- unless you really think beating a mediocre Vancouver Whitecaps team with the Cascadia Cup on the line is bigger.
Under Porter, though, the signs of progress were undeniable. A week ago, a stoppage-time equalizer robbed the Timbers of a win at San Jose and they gone undefeated on the road this season.
The Timbers, who have become known for their ability to dominate possession, still managed to keep it 47 percent of the time against KC. They were also efficient with their possession, generating 12 shots and putting seven of them on frame. The Timbers also got a big performance from Donovan Ricketts, who was forced to make six saves.
Throughout their history, the Timbers have always struggled on the road and been solid at home. If this is a sign of things to come, their first ever playoff appearance is just the minimum they should expect.