The Portland Timbers did everything necessary to secure a 3-0 victory tonight over a San Jose Earthquakes squad depleted by injuries, international call ups, and suspensions. The victory moves the Timbers above the Vancouver Whitecaps and into the Western Conference's final playoff berth, although the Whitecaps now have a game in hand.
Facing off against an Earthquakes side featuring six changes from their starting eleven featured on Saturday and only four subs on the bench, the Timbers controlled the run of play for the entirety of the match, allowing not a single shot on goal from San Jose.
Despite their dominence, the Timbers took their time to break through and get the opening goal. The Timbers pressed forward in waves for much of the first half, creating a series of shooting chances for Darlington Nagbe, who was pressing forward and into the center of the pitch regularly.
When the break through goal finally came in the 41', it was Nagbe again at the center of it, receiving the ball at the top of the Earthquakes' box from Diego Valeri. This time, however, he elected not to try his own luck and instead slipped the ball forward to Rodney Wallace, cutting inside from the Timbers' left.
Wallace, with the ball at his feet, took a touch toward goal before firing off a hard shot that blew by Jon Busch, giving the spry Quakes' keeper no time to make the save.
The Timbers broke through again shortly after the half-time mark, winning a penalty in the 50' of the match. As Valeri swung a high ball into the San Jose box off a spot kick, Wallace was hauled down in the box by defender Jason Hernandez. Referee Baldomero Toledo wasted no time deliberating the call, pointing immediately to the spot and awarding the Timbers their fourth penalty of the season.
Without Will Johnson on hand to take the penalty, the duty fell to Valeri, the Maestro. Stepping up, Valeri sent Busch the wrong way, stroking his penalty to the keeper's left as he dove right and putting the Timbers up 2-0.
Finally, the Timbers finished off any hope of a San Jose "Goonies never say die" moment with their third goal of the night in the 73'.
Again the chance start with Darlington Nagbe slipping a ball from the top of the box in to Wallace cutting in from the Timbers' left flank. Again Wallace lined up a powerful shot. This time, however, Busch managed to bat the ball away, sending a rebound bouncing into the penelty box and as far as the waiting Valeri.
With the ball settled at his feat and noone on him, Valeri calmly knocked the ball over the legs of a pair of diving defenders and into the back of the net.
The Timbers will find out if they hold on to the fifth place spot for another week on Friday, when the Whitecaps face the Seattle Sounders for control of the Cascadia Cup. A Sounders victory will get them the cup and keep them on pace for the Supporters' Shield, while a Whitecaps win moves them back into a playoff spot and gives them the Cup.