PORTLAND, Ore. – There was a lot that the Portland Timbers could have taken personally from Sunday’s hotly-contested game against the San Jose Earthquakes at JELD-WEN Field.
San Jose was issued four cards for reckless fouls, whistled for 12 fouls and forward Alan Gordon was sent off in the 69th minute after picking up his second yellow of the game.
All in all, it would have been easy for Portland to lose their composure despite walking away a 1-0 winner. And to top it off, there’s not much time to cool off. Portland and San Jose face off again Sunday at Buck Shaw Stadium (8 pm ET, ROOT SPORTS, 750 AM The Game / La Pantera 940).
“We knew it would be a physical game, and a lot of what they do is giving the other teams fight,” Timbers head coach Caleb Porter said. “And it’s tough to play against, that’s why they were the Supporters’ Shield winners last year because it’s tough to play against.
"They’ve got a group of guys who roll up their sleeves and believe and [San Jose coach] Frank [Yallop] does a great job getting his group ready to play, ready to fight. I don’t fault them for that," Porter added. "They want to win. We have no problem with it because we’ll fight, too. We’re not going to back down.”
Portland did indeed display toughness a week after seeing midfielder Diego Valeri and David Horst leave their game against the Houston Dynamo with injuries. Center back Mamadou “Futty” Danso and Mikael Silvestre and midfielder Diego Chara both required the attention of team trainers after hard collisions but stayed in the game.
“I thought we matched their intensity and fight and we didn’t get caught up in it,” Porter said. “Sometimes you get rattled in that type of game, and I don’t think our guys did. I thought they kept very composed.”
Team captain Will Johnson expects another battle this week. He said the “workmanlike” mentality of the new-look Timbers, now unbeaten in four games and riding a two-game winning streak, is suited for just such a game.
The midfielder, whose 78th-minute free-kick goal won the game, was particularly complimentary of the work done by Danso and Silvestre, the latter of whom received a bloodied lip by a Gordon elbow as the two contested for a 50-50 ball. It was the play that led to Gordon’s second yellow.
Danso was a late start after the team realized expected starter Andrew Jean-Baptiste couldn’t go because of a adductor strain.
“Those guys just matched it every step of the way,” Johnson said. “You know against San Jose what their style is. It’s very bullish, very alpha, they kind of want to fight and play a lot of long balls and battle and crunch and that’s their style. And you have to respect it because it’s been effective.
"We knew that coming in, it wasn’t a surprise. We knew it was going to get chippy and I’m proud of our guys for matching them toe-to-toe and not giving anything away, and not losing our cool.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.