Last weekend the Portland Timbers had a physical battle with the San Jose Earthquakes; this weekend was no different. The San Jose Earthquakes, and Steven Lenhart in particular, took every opportunity to use intimidation and recklessness to influence the game. Portland kept their cool, but in the end they were unable to secure their first road win of the season, settling instead for the draw.
Just as everyone expected, San Jose came out with a lot of energy, and it nearly gave them an early goal. In the second minute, Donovan Ricketts made an amazing kick save on a deceptively quick shot by Steven Lenhart. After dodging the early bullet, Portland weathered the storm and were able to take the sting out of the game with some good old possession.
But the Timbers were not controlling the game to the degree fans saw in their previous two matches, allowing the Quakes to create dangerous chances. In the 22nd minute Chris Wondolowski was through on goal, but his shot from point blank range was palmed the ball over the goal by the mighty Ricketts for a Save of the Week candidate.
The Timbers got their act together as the first half progressed, but San Jose continued to disrupt Portland's passing, forcing the defenders to play long balls forward. Neither team was able to create any more scoring opportunities for the rest of the half.
The second half started like the end of the first half ended, with a lot of play in the middle third and no goal scoring opportunities. Both teams were able to get close to the penalty area, but neither could find the final pass. Shea Salinas was able to create the first chance of the half in the 56th minute after he blew by Michael Harrington, but Mikael Silvestre blocked his cross and snuffed out the chance.
Portland was finally able to break through in the 58th minute, thanks to some quality passing, good follow-through, and a little bit of luck.
Diego Chara received a pass from Harrington on the wing and played forward to Diego Valeri, who flicked the ball over to Darlington Nagbe. Nagbe played Ryan Johnson behind the defense at the top of the box, but before he could do anything with it, Steven Beitashour recovered and slide tackled him, sending Johnson and the ball sprawling. As keeper Jon Busch raced off his line to try to pick up the loose ball, it fell right into the path of Diego Valeri, who one-timed it under the charging keeper and into the back of the net.
After the goal, San Jose seemed to turn on a switch. Portland did not match San Jose's energy, and the final 30 minutes brought the Quakes ever closer to an equalizer. Portland continually ceded more and more momentum, position, and possession to San Jose as the game wore on.
With the Timbers on their heels, the pressure continued to mount. San Jose's first opportunity came in the 73rd minute, when Harrington passed a square ball right to substitute Sam Garza, playing in just his 10th MLS match. Through on goal, Garza only had Ricketts to beat, but the ball got caught in the spokes. Ricketts was able to pounce on the ball and extinguish the danger.
The inevitable goal came in the 92nd minute, starting with a long ball from Busch. Lenhart was able to rise and flick the ball into what Caleb Porter called the "mosh pit," where it was knocked around by at least three Quakes players before falling in front of rookie Adam Jahn, who pounded it in, sending San Jose's amateurish announcers into raptures.
- Portland earned their third result on the road after three games (last year it took 11 road games to get 3 road points).
- The Timbers have San Jose on their schedule just one more time. Until then it'll be up to the rest of the league to put them in their place.
- I absolutely loved Jimmy Conrad -- his insights were great and he had some hilarious comments too.
- John Strong, on the other hand, is on our list -- did he really have to point out that the Timbers had shut out their opponents in the final 30 minutes of every match they'd played previously? (I'm kidding around, of course.)
- Two games and twice Portland has shut down Chris Wondolowski (He only recorded 3 total shots and 1 on goal this game)
- The Ultras finally got off their weirdly misguided Merritt Paulson / Timbers Army sheep motif, displaying a banner reading, "If you played in heaven, we would die to support you." Hmmmm...
- Great Sunday for Portland Footy Fans. We really showed why Portland is Soccer City USA.