In what was a tense back-and-forth game at Earthquake Stadium, the Portland Timbers drew the San Jose Earthquakes 1-1. It was the first of two matches the teams will play this week.
The Timbers changed up the rotation for this one, resting key players such as Diego Valeri and Jeremy Ebobisse and inserting Andy Polo and Jaroslaw Niezgoda in their stead. Portland also moved Jorge Villafana, Chris Duvall and Julio Cascante to the bench for Marco Farfan, Bill Tuiloma and Pablo Bonilla. Both teams were situated in a 4-3-3 to start the match.
San Jose had the first shot at the goal after intercepting Eryk Williamson’s pass to Niezgoda. The Quakes did a good job early taking advantage of any Portland mistakes and quickly jumping into the counter-attack. The turnovers were a problem for Portland throughout, as it led to some set-piece opportunities for San Jose.
The first real scoring opportunity for Portland came in the 13th minute. Countering off the failed corner from San Jose, Williamson’s eyes grew big as he saw plenty of open field in front of him. As his defender drew closer, he got the pass to Bonilla, whose shot was deflected. The ensuing corner resulted in nothing for Portland.
Both teams found the most success in the counter attack. For San Jose, it came off Portland turnovers. For Portland, it usually came off unsuccessful set pieces from the Quakes. The turnovers, however, for Portland put San Jose in position to maintain possession the majority of the half. Going into halftime, they had possession 62% of the time compared to Portland’s 38%.
Portland had their next best chance at the 28th minute off the free kick. Williamson — who struggled the most with turnovers but also generated plenty of chances — launched the free kick towards the box. Tuiloma came in to try and head in the shot but it was no good.
San Jose responded quickly on the other end, earning the free kick and a good chance to score after Valeri “Vako” Qazaishvilli was fouled. Steve Clark had other plans though: The free kick was no good thanks to Clark’s diving save, and Florian Jungwirth’s follow was no good thanks to Clark’s miraculous shoulder save. What could’ve easily been a goal was instead an empty possession.
Steve Clark. That is all.#SJvPOR | #RCTID pic.twitter.com/8DJu5gOP8Z— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) September 17, 2020
Portland finally broke through with a special goal in the 34th minute. Portland forced the turnover in the middle of the field, and Diego Chara was able to chip the ball ahead to his brother, Yimmi Chara. Yimmi got the edge on his man and was able to lift it just over the keeper for the goal. It was his first goal with the Timbers and only the sixth time a set of brothers have connected for a goal in MLS history.
The goal we've waited a very long time to see.— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) September 17, 2020
Diego Chara ➡️ Yimmi Chara.#SJvPOR | #RCTID pic.twitter.com/357UAx5GUb
The goal didn’t discourage San Jose too much. The Quakes continued to put pressure on Portland’s defense, getting 11 shots off to Portland’s three. Vako himself had more shots in the first half than Portland (five shots). It was actually a solid half for San Jose minus the goal, and the box score reflected that. But the good news for Portland was that they were the ones with the goal, as they led 1-0 going into the half.
The second half started somewhat similar to the first, with San Jose working their way downfield along the wing and trying to get the cross. Usually Portland was able to clear it, but the Quakes continued to keep the pressure on them.
Niezgoda got his first chance of the night in the 55th minute. Bonilla had space to work and tried to get it through to one of Felipe Mora or Niezgoda. The ball was deflected and found its way the Polish striker at the top of the box. Unfortunately for him, James Marcinkowski was able to block the shot to prevent the easy goal.
Portland had a scary moment in the 59th minute that almost resulted in losing Tuiloma. A loose ball in the box for San Jose landed in the feet of Tommy Thompson, whose shot at goal found Tuiloma’s head instead of the back of the net. Tuiloma returned to the game.
The Timbers made their biggest substitution of the night in the 64th minute, bringing in Ebobisse, Marvin Lloria and Cristhian Paredes for Yimmi Chara, Williamson and Mora. Head coach Giovanni Savarese seemed to make the move in order to inject some energy into the lineup in hopes of preventing an easy San Jose comeback. San Jose followed that up with their own subs in the 69th minute, bringing in Chris Wondolowski, Cade Cowell and Carlos Fierro.
The sub seemed to energize the Quakes, as they soon saw one of their best opportunities of the half. In the 71st minute, Vako had plenty of space on the wing and tried to work the cross to a running Fierro. The shot was deflected so no goal for San Jose.
Portland found an opportunity of their own soon after. Countering off the San Jose turnover, Ebobisse attacked up the wing and had the opportunity for the shot. Instead, he opted for the pass back Lloria, whose shot was off target and to the left.
Wondolowski immediately changed the flow of the offense for San Jose, and it showed in the 77th minute. Wondolowski crossed it into the box, finding its way to Vako, who got the shot past Clark. Dario Zuparic tried his best to clear the ball before it passed the line, and while it was initially called a cleared ball, VAR confirmed it had indeed crossed the line. It was the 10th goal the Timbers have given up in the final 15 minutes this season.
That goal pushed all the momentum to San Jose’s side. San Jose had plenty of opportunities to take the lead from Portland, including a Vako free kick in the 87th minute and a Wondo header in the 89th minute. Luckily for Portland, Vako’s kick went right into the wall, while Wondo’s was stopped by yet another amazing Clark save.
SAVED BY CLARK!— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 17, 2020
The @TimbersFC keeper denies the greatest scorer in MLS history to keep us level late. #SJvPOR pic.twitter.com/ZPHtYC6rud
San Jose never stopped attacking during extra time, doing whatever they could to try and earn the game-winning goal. Despite Wondo’s best efforts, that goal never came, and the Timbers escaped with a 1-1 draw.
Portland will play the Earthquakes for their next game on Saturday, with the start time set for 7:30 p.m. Pacific.