The Portland Timbers earned their first away victory of the season — and their second in league play — by dispatching the San Jose Earthquakes on the road on Saturday night. An early fifth minute goal from Yimmi Chara got affairs started, and a clutch penalty kick save from debutante Logan Ketterer in the second half maintained the advantage. A second half goal from Marvin Loria would be the exclamation point, and clinch three points for the Timbers for the first time in three weeks.
The Timbers entered this match quite shorthanded due to injury, and because of that they had to field a makeshift lineup and formation. With Jeff Attinella out for the season and Steve Clark still recovering, newly signed goalkeeper Logan Ketterer got his first Timbers start. Diego Chara and Larrys Mabiala were both out with hamstring strains, and normal starter and captain Diego Valeri started tonight’s affair on the bench.
Due to the unconventional 11 for the team, you would be forgiven to think that Portland would try to sit back and settle into the game, and find their footing before trying anything too adventurous on the attacking end.
Well, Eryk Williamson and Yimmi Chara had other plans in the fifth minute.
Turning over San Jose, Williamson collected the ball and drove towards the ‘Quakes defense. He laid off a great pass for Yimmi Chara who had beat his man for pace, who then calmly chipped the ball over San Jose ‘keeper JT Marcinkowski and into the back of the net.
Fans had barely had a chance to settle into that large outdoor bar section, and the Timbers had already taken the lead.
After the goal, again as one might have expected, the Earthquakes really took hold of the game and possession. They seemed intent on controlling the ball and trying to pull the Timbers out of position, while the Timbers seemed very content to stay compact and organized, often times putting 10 players within 30 yards of their goal.
That wasn’t to say that San Jose didn’t have their chances. There were several times where the Quakes would switch the ball and find space to lump in a cross, a few of which found a half-open San Jose player. But the Timbers backline did well to close the space and make things difficult, making several key blocks. Ketterer also did his part, by collecting a couple dangerous corners and parrying a lofted free kick away in the 32nd minute.
The Timbers had one dangerous chance of their own when Dario Zuparic sent a header off a corner off the left post of the San Jose goal in the 30th minute, but outside of that additional clear scoring opportunities were few and far between for the Timbers.
The first half ended with San Jose enjoying a big edge in possession with 75%, but Portland enjoyed the biggest edge in the number that counted, as they went into the break up 1-0.
At the start of the second half, the Timbers came out on the front foot. They immediately put pressure on San Jose, producing multiple chances from the run of the play. The closest of those being in the 55th minute, when Mora got on the end of a ball in the box and was in on goal, only to be denied on the doorstep. The Timbers looked to be the aggressors in the second 45 minutes, and a goal seemed to be coming for the visitors.
However, the next team to get the clearest scoring chance would be San Jose, via the penalty spot. In the 61st minute, San Jose whipped in a cross, and it deflected off of the outstretched hand of Claudio Bravo in the box. There was some initial confusion, but the referee pointed to the spot, and the Quakes had a chance to level things via a penalty kick.
Chris Wondolowski — the San Jose legend — stepped up the spot fresh off of subbing on. He went to his right, but Logan Ketterer guessed right, dove to his left, and denied Wondo. Ketterer, just two days after signing for the Timbers, denied MLS’s leading all-time goal scorer from the spot to maintain Portland’s advantage.
Quite the debut indeed.
The Timbers would capitalize on their momentum not too long thereafter. In the 74th minute, the Timbers again were on the attack. Williamson found space on the right side after a recycled ball from Mora. He lofted a cross to the back post, where Marvin Loria found himself alone and unmarked. Loria rose for the header, and made no mistake as he placed it far post, giving Portland a 2-0 lead.
Williamson would end the game with a pair of assists, and also with the distinction of being the most dangerous player on the field for either side, cementing another solid showing for the central midfielder.
The rest of the game was marked by the Timbers doing a very professional job of limiting San Jose’s dangerous chances. The closest the home side came was in the 80th minute, when Wondolowski broke free and sent a header into the turf right in front of the goal, which bounced up dangerously. Ketterer did well to make a reaction save and maintain Portland’s two goal advantage.
The game was seen out, the clean sheet was kept, and Portland walked out of Pay Pal park with their first away win of the season, and their first shutout. It was an impressive result on its own, and especially so considering the circumstances. And for a Timbers side that had been on a bit of a downturn after being bounced from the Concacaf Champions League and dropping a home rivalry match to Seattle, it was also badly needed.
The Timbers have their first full week off in about a month, where they can hopefully rest and recuperate their lengthy injury list. They will next be in action next Saturday, when they face the Los Angeles Galaxy at home.