SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 19: Danny Mwanga #10 of the Portland Timbers celebrates after scoring a goal against the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium on September 19, 2012 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Like their fans, the San Jose Earthquakes team came out of the gate with a little bit of an edge that I don't think the Portland Timbers squad realized would be there. I'm not sure if they were particularly pumped for the match, or this is just the normal every day San Jose mentality, but they were certainly willing to play a gritty, physical game with the Timbers. I guess in a league as physical as MLS, however, that's a pretty good thing.
Regardless of their pay, the Timbers actually played pretty well considering the odds. San Jose is still on top of the table and twice San Jose was forced to play catch up to a team that is simply struggling to not be in last place. Particularly one Danny Mwanga who scored his first brace for the Timbers in as elegant of fashion as we've seen all year from any player.
Here are the individual player ratings:
Joe Bendik: 5
Andy: Bendik made some tremendous saves and knew exactly when to come off his line, and he gets an extra point for maintaining his composure in his first start of his Timbers career. Unfortunately his one giant weakness was on full display Wednesday night: he's much quieter than the back line is used to. That meant the center backs were completely uncoordinated on set pieces and generally when the ball was around the box.
Lovel Palmer: 5
Will: In his first game with the team since taking a knock while on international duty, Lovel looked solid for most of the game. He did not commit any of the blunders that plagued him early on in the season. Staying back on defense and some good contributions from Darlington Nagbe certainly helped, but where Palmer's game was lacking was in his clearances. While the Timbers needed pressure to be relieved, booting it up the field was not helping.
David Horst: 5
Andy: Great first half for Horst. Really outstanding. He dealt with Steven Lenhart effectively and made a great goal line save. Sadly, his sloppiness with the ball towards the end put undue pressure on himself and his defensive teammates. And then he did something to light a fire under Chris Wondolowski. I wonder if we'll ever find out what that was about.
Andy: A barely decent first half was followed by a pretty terrible second half, as Mosco provided what amounted to an assist of Wondo's second goal.
Steven Smith: 5
Andy: Smith looked to be the best of the back four and as always provided an outlet for Franck Songo'o when one was needed.
Will: In the first half Wallace was excellent as he held possession, mixed things up with San Jose and passed well including a nice one-two pass to set up the Timbers' first goal. He did have some spacing issues with Jewsbury in the early going, but looked perfectly at home in the center of the pitch by the end of the half. In the second half, however, Wallace disappeared as the team took a more defensive stance. He wasn't able to contribute to the Timber's possession and, despite making some good tackles, didn't seem to be able to be a difference maker for the defense or in the attack.
Andy: Showed a lot of fight in the middle of the pitch and largely took Rafael Baca out of the game, but the Timbers could have used a little more defensive leadership.
Darlington Nagbe: 6
Andy: A solid outing for Nagbe, he turned in a gutsy game on the right wing in spite of a low level of support from Lovel Palmer.
Franck Songo'o: 7
Geoff: A great game for Songo'o. Not only did he notch the assist off of Mwanga's golazo, but he also took a rather impressive chance himself that had San Jose's defense and keeper scrambling. Overall he was a tremendous offensive boon for the Timbers outmatched only by Mwanga's brace.
Danny Mwanga: 8
Andy: Mwanga had some problems with his positioning early on, but man did he overcome them with a couple of gorgeous finishes. And he even added some defense late in the game when he sort of switched places with Songo'o.
Bright Dike: 3
Ryan: I think the Dike train has stalled and it needs to be fixed. I think someone else needs some time up top.
Kris Boyd: N/A
Will: Boyd showed his commitment on the pitch early on as he drove for the goal only to head the ball just wide in the Timbers' best chance up until that point. Unfortunately, in what could have been his chance to show how he could fit in to this team, Boyd went down injured in a harsh blow for both the Timbers and for Boyd's hopes of contributing through the end of the season. [NOTE: Even though Boyd didn't technically sub in, we have listed him here due to the low amount of minutes he played in the game as compared to Bright Dike.]
Eric Brunner: N/A
Geoff: First time in a long time we've seen Eric Brunner and, well, he didn't look bad. Still, it'll be a few matches before we can say for certain whether or not he's able to take over a starting position.
Kosuke Kimura: N/A
Another late substitute and one which was meant to attempt to hold the onslaught brought on by San Jose's overwhelming attacking force. Unfortunately, as we've known before, Kimura just isn't as speedy as he needs to be to be an effective right back against the likes of player like Chris Wondolowski.