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Three is a Streak; Portland Timbers Beat San Jose Earthquakes 1-0

MLS: Portland Timbers at San Jose Earthquakes Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Putting the troubles of their season opening behind them, the Portland Timbers went on the road today and brought home all three points as they beat the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 at Avaya Stadium. A strong defensive performance and a beautiful Diego Valeri free kick were enough to put the Timbers over the top and extend their winning streak to three.

The Timbers started off the match by setting up camp deep in the San Jose half, pinning the home side back. With the Earthquakes under pressure, the Timbers were able to find their first real chance in the 8th minute when some quick movement around the box found Fanendo Adi in space at the top of the San Jose box. With time to pick out his shot, Adi hit a controlled side-footer that skipped toward goal only to ricochet off the post and away.

As the Timbers continued to press, Adi had another chance in the 22nd minute when Sebastian Blanco played him into the box on a quick break out after a turnover. With the ball bouncing in front of him, Adi stuck a leg out to get off the quick shot only to put it wide of goal.

The Earthquakes had a chance of their own in the 25th minute as they made a rare foray down the pitch. As San Jose fullback Nick Lima streaked down the wing, he hit a driven ball into the box that at first looked like a cross, but caught everyone off guard before it slammed off the crossbar, forcing the Timbers to scramble and clear the ball out for a corner.

After getting the chance, the Earthquakes were emboldened and another soon came. In the 32nd minute, the Earthquakes were able to break through the midfield into a three on three that saw Vako end up on the ball at the edge of the box. With the Timbers falling back, Vako had time to line up a shot, hitting a well placed ball that Jeff Attinella read, laying out across the face of goal to make the save.

In the final minutes of the half, the Timbers were able to reassert some control, grabbing a pair of chances in the 44th and 45th minutes. First, Cristhian Paredes got on the ball in the San Jose half after some tenacious dribbling from Blanco and blasted a shot from distance that looked like it might dip below the bar, only for Earthquakes keeper Andrew Tarbell to push it high. Then, after a heroic and acrobatic interception from Diego Chara to keep San Jose form breaking down the pitch, Blanco played Andy Polo to the end line where the speedster cut a ball back into the box and into the path of Adi. The Timbers’ target man was able to stick a boot out and make contact with the ball, but he was not able to put it on frame and the chance went wanting.

After the break, both sides came out firing and the Earthquakes were able to grab the first chance of the half. In the 48th minute, the Earthquakes caught the Timbers pressing forward and hit out on on break, slipping a ball in behind for forward Danny Hoesen to run onto. Getting on the ball with a tight angle, Hoesen was able to get off a shot, but put it right at Attinella, who made the straightforward save.

As the half wore on, staying wide open, the chances continued to come for the Earthquakes and in the 54th minute, Attinella was once again called into action. A long, driven free kick from the home side found the head of Chris Wondolowski and the Earthquakes’ all-time leading scorer flicked the ball toward the back post only for Attinella to lay out and push the ball wide, threading it through a pair of attacking players crashing the goal and getting the ball clear.

With the chances continuing to come for San Jose, the momentum shifted in the match and the Timbers struggled to break down the pitch effectively. Both sides looked to sit deep and play on the break, but the Timbers struggled to break down the San Jose defense as they had in the first half.

When the Timbers finally broke through, it was a goalazo. In the 88th minute, Samuel Armenteros, brought on late in the half for Adi, was taken down outside the Earthquakes box and referee Chris Penso gave the free kick. Twenty-two yards from goal, Diego Valeri stepped up to the ball and hit a swerving free kick that cleared the wall and curled just around Tarbell’s finger tips before sneaking inside the post to give the Timbers the one-nil lead.

Although the Earthquakes pressed forward for the final moments of the match, the Timbers held on, weathering more than five minutes of stoppage until the final whistle.

The Timbers return to Portland next Sunday when they will take on the Seattle Sounders in the first Cascadia Cup match of the season.