PORTLAND, Ore. – As the Portland Timbers came into their game against the San Jose Earthquakes Wednesday night, they had yet to secure a clean sheet in 2016.
That all changed as they came away with a 1-0 win over the Quakes at Providence Park despite playing the second half with only 10 men.
It was goalkeeper Jake Gleeson’s first-ever regular-season MLS clean sheet in his career and was achieved all while manning the nets in front of a specially created tifo banner in the North End. Done in the style of classic pack of gum, the banner read, “Timbers Juicy Fruit. Kiwi Keeper. Two Sticks.”
For Gleeson, one of the club’s original MLS signings, seeing the banner was special.
“Obviously, it’s nice,” he said following the game. “I’ve been here a long time, I’ve trained a long time and worked my way into a good situation where I can play. To get that kind of love back [from the fans] is awesome.
“Hopefully, I can keep going and keep playing well and keep making them happy.”
Though San Jose was credited with 14 shots, only three were on target and the entire team played a solid game defensively. While Gleeson was credited with the shutout and received the honor of lifting one of Timber Joey’s log slabs after the match, he was quick to give credit to the squad in front of him.
“[The log] was heavy, really heavy,” said Gleeson with a smile. “It was great. I think the backline deserve it a bit more than I do but obviously, it’s a good feeling.”
Midfielder Ned Grabavoy echoed those sentiments in crediting the team effort to earn the clean sheet.
"We defended from the highest guy to the goalkeeper," he said. "And not just individually, but we did it in tandems and as a group."
The win kept the Timbers undefeated in their last three games (2-0-1) and put them in a good position as they head into a June international break. For Gleeson, the team’s performance in the match is something he thinks the club can build on.
“We’ve had a hard start to the year with everything that’s come against us but I think this is kind of a big swing,” he said. “To get a clean sheet, to win the game in the manner that we did was unbelievable. The boys put in a remarkable performance to grit it out and I think if we can just tap into that in future games, then we’re going to be in a good position.”