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CCL Rewind: Timbers eliminated, Sporting KC closes with win

Photo by Troy Wayrynen/USA TODAY Sports
Photo by Troy Wayrynen/USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Timbers came up short in their quest to qualify for the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday night.

The MLS Cup champions were held to a 1-1 draw with Costa Rican side Saprissa at Providence Park. The Timbers needed a win in order to win Group B, which would have booked their spot in the quarters.

Elsewhere, Sporting Kansas City closed out its CCL campaign with a 3-1 victory over Central FC of Trinidad & Tobago. The game, however, was practically meaningless as the Vancouver Whitecaps already wrapped up Group C.

The Whitecaps secured the top seed ahead of the knockout stage after Olimpia fought back to draw 4-4 with Pachuca in the other match on Wednesday. Vancouver will likely face one of FC Dallas, Suchitepequez or the New York Red Bulls.

Here is a closer look at the action.


For the second time in their MLS history, the Portland Timbers narrowly missed out on the CCL knockout stage.

The defending MLS Cup champions drew 1-1 with Saprissa, but they were still knocked out as the Costa Ricans won Group B by a one-point margin. It was the second time the Timbers were eliminated in the final round of the group stage, having missed out on the 2014-15 quarterfinals due to Olimpia owning the tiebreaker.

Saprissa opened the scoring in the 24th minute through Rolando Blackburn’s header off a Hansell Arauz cross. The Timbers fought back valiantly in the first half, but could not find an equalizer. Eventually, Jack McInerney struck in the 57th minute to pull the hosts level. The Costa Rican giants managed to hold on after that, securing their spot in the quarterfinals.


Sporting Kansas City had nothing left to play for in CCL, but it picked up a morale-boosting 3-1 win over Trindadian side Central FC.

Cameron Porter scored his first goal for SKC in all competitions after Central FC’s Jem Gordon struck right before halftime. Nineteen-year-old academy graduate Nansel Selbol, who has spent the entire year with Swope Park Rangers in the USL, gave Sporting the lead just six minutes later. Connor Hallisey added the third goal of the night after converting a penalty in second-half stoppage time.

All three players scored their first goals for the club in the victory, which should give the team a boost the final weekend of the MLS season.


  1. Don’t look now, but the bracket is shaping up kindly for a potential non Liga MX team to win it all. Pumas must win tonight to be the third Mexican team in the knock out rounds and if they do two Mexican teams will be the 4/5 matchup. Were FC Dallas to win by less than 7 goals, they will be the 7th seed at best, meaning Dallas and New York will play Vancouver and Arabe Unido in the 1/8 and 2/7 matchups. If two MLS teams emerge from that set up, they will only need beat two Liga MX sides to win the whole thing (or just one if two MLS sides make the final). Hopefully by the semis, whichever sides emerge will have the season under way and be in form. Regardless, this year will be a much better outcome than last years quarterfinal slaughter at the hands of Liga MX

    • Of course FCD could lose to Suchitepéquez by more than 3 goals and force a Vancouver/NYRB match up in the quarters, leaving just one team in the semis, still better than last year.

      Or FCD could lose close and MLS risks both of its teams losing to Suchitepéquez and Arabe in the quarters and MLS gets shut out of the semis again

  2. MLS still has a long way to go when MLS sides can’t even get out of their group in CCL against Honduran and Costa Rican sides. Say what you want about how far MLS has come and blah blah blah, but CCL is a way for us to measure where we are as league in real competition and we keep coming up short. With the exception of RSL making the final several years back very little has been accomplished to say we are near to being a top league. MLS squads routinely get bounced in the group stage and have only made the final once since the new format went into place. Garber and the owners needs to get off their high horse and allow an substantial increase in salary cap so MLS can build depth to compete in multiple competitions. I would say the awkward MLS season starting in March and ending in November plays a part in getting bounced in the knockout phase because MLS squads are in preseason to begin the knockout phase, but MLS squads keep getting bounced in the group stages too when they should be in top form. If it was just once MLS team per year not making the knockout I wouldn’t think anything of it but its routinely 2-3 teams that seem to get bounced by teams who appear on paper to be far inferior but apparently are not.

    • Yes and no. It is parity league, Portland is a long shot to make the playoffs this year.
      So the 12th best team in MLS versus the top (?) team in Costa Rica.
      The depth is the problem for MLS teams and Portland is trying to make the playoffs on Sunday.

      Not too worried about it, it will work out long term, the thing we should be worried about the fiasco of UEFA. Great game yesterday top team in Spain versus top team in England. Really exciting stuff.
      This will happen in the CCL soon enough, enjoy the competition while it isn’t boring.

      • Lol don’t compare the champions league with the CCL, two completely different animals. One is the top club competition in the world while the other is not even the top competition in its region.

    • You are forgetting Montreal which made it to the final despite being at the bottom of MLS at the time. And it was before Drogba joined them. Still, while Saprissa has historically been good, I wonder if the Timbers played their first team. I think they probably care more about making the MLS playoffs than CCL quarters.

      • Timbers played without four starters; Adi, Valeri, Jewsbury, and Mattocks. Typical of the Timbers season of playing without a cohesive unit and no bench due to injuries or suspensions.
        Lack of competitive depth hurts all MLS teams! If the 25th dude on a roster was making a minimum of $100,000, think about how better the overall quality of the leasgue would be.

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