MatchDay Preview: Timbers look to defend home vs. struggling Quakes
The Portland Timbers look to continue their drive toward a place in the MLS Cup Playoffs in their expansion season when they play host to the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday evening at JELD-WEN Field. The Timbers have won five in a row at home after last Friday's win against New England, and are tied for the final wild card spot. The Earthquakes are seven points out of a postseason berth following their 2-1 loss at Houston last weekend.
The Portland Timbers won for the fourth consecutive match at home, a comprehensive 3-0 defeat of the New England Revolution on Friday evening at PPL Park. The Timbers have 36 points from 28 games, in sixth place in the Western Conference.
- The Timbers jumped into the lead after nine minutes. A Lovel Palmer cross from the right fell to Diego Chara, and he squirted through close quarters before chipping it past Revolution goalkeeper from close range.
- Portland doubled their lead in the 32nd minute when Kenny Cooper got between Revolution in the goalmouth and bundled home a Mike Chabala cross from the left wing.
- The game was put away in the 66th minute when midfielder Kalif Alhassan spotted Darlington Nagbe open in front of goal and the rookie headed home a clever cross, just inside goalkeeper Matt Reis' right post.
- Timbers coach John Spencer made two changes to the team that played to a scoreless draw with Philadelphia Union at PPL Park. Mamadou Danso came in at center back for the injured David Horst, and Darlington Nagbe started in place of Jorge Perlaza.
- PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-4-2): Troy Perkins - Lovel Palmer, Mamadou Danso, Eric Brunner, Mike Chabala - Diego Chara - Sal Zizzo (Eric Alexander 82), Jack Jewsbury, Kalif Alhassan - Darlington Nagbe - Kenny Cooper (Bright Dike 79).
The Timbers have now won four consecutive games at JELD-WEN Field after the 3-0 win vs. New England last Friday. Portland won its first five home games as a member of MLS this season.
"I think in the Philadelphia game last week, we came out with a lot of maturity from that game. ... I thought we showed a lot of flair, a lot of character, a lot of great movement. At the end of the day I think you could say we were well worthy of the three points," said Timbers head coach John Spencer.
After the San Jose game, the Timbers will play four of their final five games on the road. They enter the week tied for the final wild card spot with New York, with 36 points with five games to play.
"Obviously, people are looking into it and saying our road form isn't the best. We want to win our home games, you need to win your home games in order to make the playoffs, but there's still going to be opportunities if we don't win at home," said Spencer.
The Timbers are riding a club-record 271-minute shutout streak, recording shutouts in three consecutive games. Troy Perkins tied his career-high with his eighth shutout this season in the New England game.
"The most important part is that win. I thought collectively it was just a great performance from Troy (Perkins) all the way through the team. Another clean sheet, another home win, so it puts us in a great position now," said Kenny Cooper. "The goal is to be in that same great position come the end of the season."
Darlington Nagbe had made 12 consecutive starts as a wide midfielder from June 11 to Aug. 17, but had been relegated to the substitutes' bench for the last three matches, making two appearances. He started as a striker for the first time in MLS against New England.
"He keeps telling me that his best position is up front and I don't think he's far from wrong, to be honest. His hold-up play, link-up play was superb. His movement was dynamic, lightening quick," said Spencer. "From the first minute, you could tell the back four were very wary of his pace. He was head and shoulders above anyone walking on that field tonight."
- Nagbe's goal was his second of the year, his first coming July 2. "Darlington is an incredible talent and we're real fortunate to have him here. He's shown his quality throughout the year. He scored one of the best goals that I've seen earlier on (against Sporting KC), and I'm happy for him that he got another well-deserved goal. You can just see he has so many amazing qualities on and off the ball," said Cooper.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
The San Jose Earthquakes weren't able to build on a long-awaited win, falling 2-1 to the Houston Dynamo on Saturday evening at Robertson Stadium. The Quakes have 29 points from 28 games on the season, sitting in eighth place in the Western Conference.
- The visiting Earthquakes took the lead five minutes before halftime. Freed down the right flank, Steven Beitashour sent in a purposeful cross and Khari Stephenson hammered a volley past Tally Hall from the heart of the area.
- But the Dynamo knotted the score just out of the halftime break when Brad Davis was tripped up in the area by San Jose defender Bobby Burling, then converted the resulting penalty kick.
- The home side then hit for the winner 11 minutes from the end when Luiz Camargo put in a cross from the right flank and Will Bruin sent a clinical left-footed shot past goalkeeper Jon Busch.
- Earthquakes boss Frank Yallop made one change to the team that defeated the Chicago Fire 2-0 at Buck Shaw Stadium. Nana Attakora came into central defense in place of Jason Hernandez.
- SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-4-2): Jon Busch - Steven Beitashour, Bobby Burling, Nana Attakora, Ramiro Corrales - Joey Gjertsen (Jacob Peterson 63), Sam Cronin (Maxwell Griffin 83), Rafael Baca, Simon Dawkins (Matt Luzunaris 83) - Khari Stephenson, Chris Wondolowski.
The loss started a three-game road swing for the Earthquakes, and left them seven points out of the final wild card spot with six games to play.
"If you look at the quality of chances, we had a couple of breakaways we should have done better on. We knew that with the Dynamo being at home, they are going to put you under pressure. Coming out of the second half and conceding a goal in 30 seconds is not good," said Quakes head coach FrankYallop. "I can't fault our guys for effort. At least getting a tie out of the game would have been just. In the second half, it was pretty even."
The Earthquakes lost for a third time this season after scoring first in the 2-1 loss at Houston over the weekend; the three losses are tied with Sporting KC for most in the league after scoring the opening goal.
"Last year we found a way to win these games. This year we are shooting ourselves in the foot a bit. We are making a couple of mistakes and getting punished for them and not finishing when we should," said Chris Wondolowski.
Khari Stephenson scored his first goal since July 2, his second consecutive match paired with Wondolowski up top in a makeshift strike partnership.
"I think the coaches put me out there because they feel I can do a good job. I have been doing OK, and I've been pleased with how I'm doing so far. I scored a goal tonight, and I probably should have had two more," Stephenson said. "Then again, it is not my position, but I feel as if I have the qualities and I should be able to put away those chances."
Steven Beitashour recorded his fifth assist on the season, leading the Quakes, all from his right back position. He did not have an assist last year in his first year with the team.
"We had enough chances to score more than one goal. That's the disappointing part for me. We are trying our best to put it right and do our best to address everything when we play games and come out next time and do better," Yallop said.
REFEREE: Michael Kennedy. SAR (bench): Bill Dittmar; JAR (opposite): Paul Scott; 4th: Allen Chapman
MLS Career: 139 games; FC/gm: 28.8; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 26; pens: 47
Sports Medicine Oregon INJURY REPORT: PORTLAND TIMBERS - OUT: GK Adin Brown (concussion); DF Kevin Goldthwaite (L knee ACL rupture); FW Eddie Johnson (concussion); FW Spencer Thompson (R knee); PROBABLE: DF Mamadou Danso (R hamstring strain); DF David Horst (L groin strain); GK Troy Perkins (R hip soreness) ... SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES - OUT: MF Andre Luiz (L knee injury); DF Ike Opara (L foot injury); FW Alan Gordon (surgery); FW Steven Lenhart (family leave); DOUBTFUL: DF Jason Hernandez (L quadriceps strain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Justin Morrow (R hamstring strain); FW Scott Sealy (L groin strain)
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: POR: Kalif Alhassan, Diego Chara, Jack Jewsbury, James Marcelin ... SJ: Bobby Burling, Ramiro Corrales, Jason Hernandez, Chris Leitch, Steven Lenhart
ALL-TIME (1 meeting): Timbers 0 wins, 1 goal ... Earthquakes 0 wins, 1 goal ... Ties 1
- In the first meeting between the teams, Kenny Cooper put Portland ahead in the first half but Alan Gordon equalized in the second as they settled for a 1-1 draw, Aug. 6 at Buck Shaw Stadium.
- Coaches record: Frank Yallop vs. POR: P1 W0 L0 T1 ... John Spencer v SJ: P1 W0 L0 T1
8/6: SJ 1, POR 1 (Gordon 67 - Cooper 23)
- The Timbers opened the scoring on 23 minutes. Jorge Perlaza burst down the right flank and sent in a low cross, and Kenny Cooper slipped through the Earthquakes defense to touch the ball home at the top of the six-yard box.
- But the Quakes pulled even at the game's three-quarter mark. After coming on as a substitute, Alan Gordon cut inside Portland center back Eric Brunner to reach a long, looping cross from Steven Beitashour, sending a snap header inside the back post.
- SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-4-2): Jon Busch - Steven Beitashour, Jason Hernandez, Bobby Burling, Ramiro Corrales - Joey Gjertsen (Rafael Baca 82), Brad Ring, Sam Cronin (Khari Stephenson 64), Bobby Convey - Chris Wondolowski, Scott Sealy (Alan Gordon 56).
PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-4-2): Troy Perkins - Jeremy Hall (sent off 91+), David Horst, Eric Brunner, Mike Chabala - Sal Zizzo, Lovel Palmer, James Marcelin, Darlington Nagbe (Kalif Alhassan 74) - Jorge Perlaza (Bright Dike 80), Kenny Cooper (Mamadou Danso 93+).