By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1
Sporting Kansas City‘s 2018 season came to an abrupt end on Thursday night in a devastating season-ending 3-2 loss against the Portland Timbers in leg two of the Western Conference Final at Children’s Mercy Park.
In front of a sold-out, energetic crowd Sporting KC delivered a solid performance filled with chances, goals and controversial calls.
Sporting KC kicked off the match maintaining strong possession that later helped Daniel Salloi earn the chance to claim an early lead for the home side in the 20th minute.
However, things turned sour quickly after the restart when Sebastian Blanco blasted a strike into the top corner, to level the match in the 52nd. Blanco’s strike would stun fans and even fellow captain Diego Valeri – who gained a surge of energy to double the Timbers lead nine minutes later.
Now trailing 2-1, the home side had to rally quick. In the 81st minute, Sporting KC would get a glimpse of hope as Gerso Fernandes scored the equalizer after a brilliant combination from the team. On the cusp, of potentially scoring another goal to advance, the match went into sudden death for the final remainder of the half.
Despite all effort, Sporting KC’s offseason would begin deep into a grueling nine-minute stoppage time after Valeri’s breakaway finish – claiming the Western Conference Champion title and stamping the Timber’s ticket to the MLS Cup.
As fans thanked one another for their dedication, several Sporting KC players took to Twitter to express their disappointment and gratitude:
Even Daniel Salloi appeared to have hinted to be returning to the Blue Hell next season following speculation of transfer rumors for Europe:
Not even 24 hours after the loss, the club dug a little deeper into fans’ wounds by announcing which players have had contract options declined: forward Kharlton Belmar, midfielder Cristian Lobato, defenders Amer Didic, Brad Evans and Colton Storm.
At the end of the day, the contract options didn’t come as a shock to fans, since most of the core group (Matt Belser, Graham Zusi, Seth Sinovic, Roger Espinoza, and Ilie Sanchez) had recently re-signed. And with the addition of long-time veterans like goalkeeper Tim Melia, next season is shaping up to be a promising one.
Featured image: @sportingkc Instagram
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