Brian Fernandez scored in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time to give the Portland Timbers a dramatic 2-1 victory over visiting Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night.
Star forward Diego Valeri set up the goal with a left-footed baseline cross for his 16th assist of the season. Fernandez was on the doorstep waiting for the ball to arrive and put himself in position to head it into the net to give the Timbers a crucial victory.
Forward Jeremy Ebobisse scored in the 83rd minute for the Timbers (13-11-4), who raised their point total to 43, in a tie with Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas for the fifth-most points in the Western Conference.
Portland protected the lead over the final three-plus minutes of stoppage time to hand Sporting (10-12-7, 37 points) a damaging loss. SKC is five points behind the Los Angeles Galaxy, who hold the final playoff position in the West.
Midfielder Benny Feilhaber scored in the 65th minute for Sporting Kansas City.
Portland took 18 shots but put just four on target. Sporting KC had 10 shots with five on goal.
Sporting KC looked in good position when Feilhaber sent a right-footer toward goal that looked more like a cross when it left his foot. But the ball sailed over the grasp of Clark and hooked into the upper-far corner to give Sporting Kansas City a 1-0 lead.
The Timbers tied the score 18 minutes later when midfielder Diego Chara made a run up the right side and sent a cross over to Ebobisse. The ball caromed off Sporting Kansas City defender Graham Smith and the wide-open Ebobisse slammed a right-footed shot past Melia.
Portland outshot Sporting KC 10-3 in the first half but both teams put the same number of shots (one) on target.
The Timbers had the better opportunity as defender Jorge Moreira drilled a left-footed shot on goal that Melia drove to knock away.