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  • August 17, 2011
  • • 8:35 PM
  • • Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kansas
  • Referee: E. Bazakos
  • • Attendance: 15271

Sporting Kansas City 3-1 Portland Timbers: Graham Zusi brace paces KC into playoff position

Sporting Kansas City 3-1 Portland Timbers: Graham Zusi brace paces KC into playoff position

Jamie Squire

Kansas City moved up to third in the East after a smooth 3-1 win over visiting Portland. Zusi hit a brace and birthday boy Soony Saad scored on his MLS debut.

A Graham Zusi brace and Soony Saad's debut goal eased Sporting Kansas City to a 3-1 win over the Portland Timbers Wednesday night. Bright Dike pulled one back late for the visitors, but the game will likely be remembered for a bobblehead striking Jimmy Nielsen's face.

Kansas City had some early luck with long-range shots, with two going close. Zusi made the third count by blasting Sporting into the lead. Before halftime he doubled his tally by scooping home a blocked shot following a melee from a corner.

Prior to that goal, however, an Omar Bravo bobblehead -- handed out to fans prior to the game -- was thrown onto the pitch. It struck goalkeeper Nielsen below the eye, and the Dane required stitches before he could continue.

With the life-sized Bravo suspended, Saad made his MLS debut and scored what will surely stand as the flukiest goal of his professional career. Eric Brunner beat him to a ball, but the clearance deflected off Saad and looped back over Troy Perkins into the Timbers net. The University of Michigan dropout was celebrating his 19th birthday.

Bright Dike also scored his first MLS goal, notching a consolation with a scuffed strike that trickled in at the far post.

With the win Sporting leapfrogs the New York Red Bulls into third place in the Eastern Conference, good for an automatic playoff spot were the regular season to end immediately.


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