PORTLAND, Ore. – The San Jose Earthquakes might have been just what the doctor ordered for the Portland Timbers and their energized MLS Cup Playoff hopes.
Portland beat San Jose for the second time in consecutive games thanks with a 3-0 win Wednesday night at Providence Park on a first-half goal from Rodney Wallace and second-half brace by Diego Valeri.
With the full points, Portland move two points ahead of the Vancouver Whitecaps for the fifth and final postseason spot in the Western Conference with two games remaining. The Whitecaps face the Seattle Sounders on the road Friday in the first of their final three regular-season games.
It was a Wallace brace that gave Portland a comeback, 2-1 win Saturday over San Jose that eliminated the Quakes from playoff contention.
And it was a good thing San Jose didn’t have much to play for. They fielded just four bench players due to the absence of internationals Victor Bernardez, Chris Wondolowski, Atiba Harris and Cordell Cato in addition to the suspended Pablo Pintos, with Designated Player Matias Perez Garcia not on the gameday roster.
Consequently, the Timbers saw most of the ball from the outset, and the Quakes managed just eight shots with none on target.
San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch was called into action early and often, with one of the best of his seven saves on the night coming in the 32nd minute when he poked over a Fanendo Adi header, one of several set-piece chances Portland had in the early action.
They finally broke through in the 41st minute when a series of passes in the box resulted in Darlington Nagbe finding Wallace on the left wing, who fired his shot past Busch and inside the far post.
Portland extended their lead in the 50th minute when San Jose defender Jason Herandez was whistled for a foul for taking down Wallace in the box on a free-kick situation, and Valeri easily converted the resulting spot kick.
Consecutive counterattacks in late action nearly got Portland a third goal. Busch first saved a Diego Chara shot in the 69th minute and then parried away a Valeri blast a minute later.
Portland’s next counter, however, struck gold in the 73rd minute. Busch first saved a Wallace shot from the left wing, but the rebound fell right to Valeri, who calmly slammed it into the back of the net.
The Quakes had a chance to pull a goal back in the 85th minute when a fierce drive from Adam Jahn struck the woodwork.
The Earthquakes return to action Saturday on the road against Real Salt Lake. Portland have the weekend off before playing host to RSL on Oct. 17.
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.
Portland Timbers (11-9-12, 45pts) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (6-14-11, 29pts)
Oct. 8, 2014 – Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
San Jose Earthquakes 0 0 0
Portland Timbers 1 2 3
POR: Wallace (Nagbe), 41
POR: Valeri (penalty kick), 51
POR: Valeri, 73
POR: Zemanski (Caution), 20
SJ: Francis (Caution), 30
POR: Paparatto (Caution), 65
Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Ricketts, D Harrington, D Paparatto, D Ridgewell ©, D Villafaña, M Chara (Jewsbury, 79), M Valeri, M Zemanski, M Nagbe, M Wallace (Fernández, 79), F Adi (Urruti, 84)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Gleeson, D O’Rourke, M Alhassan, M Nanchoff
TOTAL SHOTS: 20 (Valeri, 7); SHOTS ON GOAL: 10 (Valeri, Wallace, 4); FOULS: 11 (Adi, 5); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 0
SJ: GK Busch, D Harden, D Koval, D Francis, D Hernandez ©, M Salinas (Stewart, 87), M Thompson (Schuler, 89), M Cronin, M Pierazzi, M Djalo (Stephenson, 68), F Jahn
Substitutes Not Used: GK Meredith
TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Jahn, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 0 (N/A); FOULS: 9 (Koval, Salinas, 2); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 1; SAVES: 7
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Assistant Referees: Ian Anderson, Jeremy Hanson
4th Official: Baboucarr Jallow
Time of Game: 1:51
Weather: Clear, 72 degrees
All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial