Minutes before halftime, defender Chance Myers helplessly buried his head in the grass at Portland’s Jeld-Wen Field, where Sporting Kansas City suffered its first defeat of the season Saturday against the Timbers.
Nearby, two of his Sporting KC teammates, defensive midfielder Julio Cesar and goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, struck similar poses — doubled over with heads on the turf.
It was the 42nd minute and Myers had just headed home the first goal of his career.
Unfortunately, it went into Sporting KC’s net for the only goal in a 1-0 Portland victory.
“We weren’t easy to beat, I know that and the guys did a solid job,” coach Peter Vermes said by phone after the match. “Sometimes, it doesn’t fall your way, but the effort was there for the guys, and tactically, I thought we were pretty good.”
A turnover just outside the penalty box allowed Timbers striker Kris Boyd, a Scottish-born goal-scoring machine in his first MLS season, to get free unmarked along the right side and float a cross to the far post.
Boyd was trying to pick out Darlington Nagbe, who had aborted his run and was nowhere near the ball — a fact Myers and Cesar surely wished they had known.
Instead, Myers and Cesar collided as both tried to clear the ball, which ricocheted off Myers’ head and into Nielsen’s net.
“That was unfortunate,” Vermes said. “There was miscommunication and two guys never should have ended up there together like that.”
None of the Sporting KC defenders seemed eager to get back up off the turf as Nagbe jogged back to midfield chuckling and Boyd celebrated taking a lead.
Sporting KC, which was playing its third game in eight days and now has a two-week break before the expansion Montreal Impact arrives May 5, dominated possession and again rifled many more shots on goal than its opponent.
Only this time, Sporting KC, 7-1-0, had nothing to show for it, though Perkins’ mishandling of a long throw-in from Matt Besler nearly knotted the game in the 91st minute.
The loss snapped a nine-game regular-season win streak for Sporting KC, which dated back to the final two games last season.
It also halted a club-record win streak to start the season, which also was the best beginning for any MLS team since the Los Angeles Galaxy during the league’s inaugural season in 1996.
Far from doom and gloom, Vermes wasn’t dismayed by the result.
“I’ll be real honest. I am happy with the way we played and the fact — outside the chance they had in the second half, which Jimmy deflected over goal — we didn’t give up many chances,” Vermes said. “We played well but came up short even though I thought we created more chances. Sometimes, that’s the way it happens, but we kept pressing it. All in all, I was happy with the performance.”