The Portland Timbers could have clinched a playoff berth with a point against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night, but instead fell short on a slippery Avaya Stadium pitch, losing 2-1 on the road.
Early in the match both teams pressed forward at a frantic pace, pressing the ball and looking to sneak an early goal. While half chances came for both sides, neither could break through in the first fifteen minutes. San Jose came closest in the 15th minute as Shae Salinas cut a pass back to Vako at the top of the Timbers’ box, but the Earthquakes forward blazed his shot just over the bar.
The Timbers’ back line would not hold long after that however, as the Earthquakes got on the board one minute later. After a bad step from Roy Miller on the flank opened up space for San Jose, Jahmir Hyka drove forward into the heart of the Timbers’ defense. Hyka slipped a ball forward to Vako again at the top of the Timbers’ box. Cutting back inside, Vako placed a precise shot just inside the post, beating the dive of Jeff Attinella and putting San Jose up 1-0.
The remainder of the half was played in the center of the pitch, with both sides struggling to string together touches in their opponent’s end. Diego Valeri came close to grabbing his 21st of the season in the 24th minute, snatching a shot narrowly wide of the post from just outside the box.
Coming out of the break, the hosts pressed forward and, in just the 49th minute, notched their second of the night. Breaking down the pitch, the ‘Quakes found Chris Wondolowki in the center of the pitch. The San Jose talisman picked his head up and picked out forward Danny Hoesen on the edge of the box. Hoesen dribbled wide, going around tackles from Liam Ridgewell and Roy Miller, before clipping a hard shot that again picked out the inside of the far post.
Now up 2-0, the Timbers pushed hard for an equalizer, but time and again failed to get on the board against a committed Earthquakes defense. The best chance for most of the half came from the Quakes who came close in the 65th minute as Hyka nearly hit the Timbers on the break, pinging a shot from distance off Attinella’s post and away from goal.
It looked like the Timbers had finally gotten on the board in the 84th minute as Sebastian Blanco hit a hard cross into Darren Mattocks at the near post. Mattocks knocked the ball home around San Jose keeper Andrew Tarbell with a simple touch, only for the assistant referee to raise her flag.
Moments later the Timbers actually broke through, scoring their first of the night in the 87th minute. With numbers committed forward, the Timbers hit a series of balls into the box and eventually saw a deflected ball fall to Darlington Nagbe wide on the left. Nagbe cut the ball back and picked out a pass to Blanco at the top of the box. With space to line up a shot, Blanco hit a strong, low shot that caught Tarbell off balance and stunk inside the near post, despite a touch from the keeper.
The Timbers continued to push for the equalizer, but none were forthcoming and the match finished in a 2-1 loss.
The Timbers have next week off and will finish out their season with a three game homestead starting on Sunday, October 15th against D.C. United.