Recap: Portland turns the table on San Jose and never gives up

Steve Dykes

Chris Wondolowski ties a MLS record on a PK created by Steven Lenhart. Portland never gives up and battles back for a game tying goal from Bright Dike.

The Portland Timbers gave a couple of regulars, Franck Songo'o and Jack Jewsbury, some rest and gave Andrew Jean Baptiste his first start since early in the season. The San Jose Earthquakes on the other hand fielded their regular starters in the hopes of getting their star, Chris Wondolowski, the MLS single season scoring record. With both teams playing for something, despite what the national pundits say, this felt like it had a lot of energy building up.

The energy in the stands transferred to the field as Portland came out going towards the TA and not wanting to give any respect to San Jose. Passing the ball around the pitch well and looked for Danny Mwanga and Darlington Nagbe on the wings up front. Meanwhile Bright Dike did his best impression of a bull in a china shop as he went after every player on the other team. For the first 10 minutes Portland controlled most of the game and earned a corner and a shot that was deflected.

San Jose did not register anything offensively until the 13th minute when they won a corner but it was cleared easily by Portland. This pattern continued as Portland repeatedly worked the ball down the field but were unable to find the final quality ball. Man have I written that sentence a lot this year. San Jose settled into a lot of long balls over the top to Steven Lenhart which usually ended in the arms of Donovan Ricketts.

However one ball did make it over the top in the 23rd minute and Ricketts was too late to get to it. Lenhart pushed it past Ricketts and instead of trying to use his hands he elected to use his feet to try and tackle the ball away. Ricketts appeared to get the ball but Lenhart made a meal of the contact and the Referee deemed it to be a foul. You can never give the Referee the opportunity to make the call despite what you think about the call.

Of course Chris Wondoloswki stepped up and calmy put the ball into the back of the net to tie Roy "the Rocket" Lassiter. After the PK San Jose smelled blood and started to force things to Wondolowski every chance the got. Despite San Jose throwing everything they got over the next 15 minutes Portland's defense held and kept San Jose out of the goal. Portland slowly but surely started taking back over the game.

In the 39th minute Portland had a good opportunity off of a corner. The ball was initially cleared by San Jose but it found AJB at the top of the box and he collected the ball, turned and found himself wide open at the top of the box. His shot looked good initially but sailed over the crossbar for a goal kick.

Neither team created anything after that and the score at the end of the half was 1-0.

Second Half:

Portland picked up where they left off in the first half by winning an early corner. The corner was initially cleared but Kosuke Kimura did hit a good second ball into the box which found was cleared to the top of the box and right towards David Horst. Horst controlled the ball off of his chest and hit a good volley which was just wide of the goal. Three minutes later in the 51st minute Portland again created a chance with a great through ball from Steven Smith to Nagbe but his cut back shot was deflected out for a Corner kick.

Neither team got close over the next 10 minutes until Wondolowski found himself in the box with only Kimura to beat. Wondo easily got enough space to hit the shot past Kimura and forced Ricketts to make the save and spill the ball into the middle of the box. AJB was there to clear the rebound before a crashing Lenhart could pounce on it. The ball did not go far as it was immediately brought back down the field by San Jose and the ensuing cross found Wondo on the back post with Kimura guarding him. He easily out jumped Kimura for the header but thankfully hit the ball wide of the goal.

Two minutes later, in the 67th minute, Portland made San Jose pay for not putting the game out of reach. Eric Alexander split two players just outside of the 18 and found Bright Dike wide open at the top of the box. His initial shot was saved by Jon Busch but the rebound went right back to the feet of Dike and he made sure he did not miss a second time.

Once Portland scored the equalizer the subs started to come in and the game hit it's second phase with two teams trying to find their games. The game started to get a little choppy and neither team threatened, unless of course you count the 84th minute shot from Wondolowski which almost cleared the 14th or 15th row in 106. Apparently he was reminding the fans how Lovel Palmer shoots. The game fizzled out after that with Portland unable to create the winning goal and San Jose not able to create the second for Chris Wondolowski.

Observations:

  • Man I hate Steven Lenhart.
  • San Jose plays a style a lot like Colorado Rapids when they won their MLS cup and it isn't pretty...
  • As usual the TA took exception to some of the calls and I even saw one fan throw something at the Assistant Referee. The good thing was a Capo immediately went to the offender (I also saw a lot of TA point out the offender to the Capo) and he was escorted out of the TA. Great to see the Self Policing.
  • Over the last half of the season it was good to see some come back ties and wins but I wish it was more consistent.
  • Dike can have a terrible touch for 70 minutes but some how he comes up with 1 moment of brilliance.
  • We had one good outside player who could consistently hit a cross and that was Steven Smith. He truly has solidified his position at LB.
  • AJB can play at this level, wish we could see more of him.
  • I really, I really hate Steven Lenhart.
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