PORTLAND, Ore. – Two teams seemingly headed in opposite directions found themselves on the level Wednesday night when the Portland Timbers and San Jose Earthquakes played to a 1-1 draw at JELD-WEN Field.
Timbers forward Kenny Cooper highlighted an action-packed first-half with a goal in the ninth minute as Portland attempted to continue their march toward the playoffs, but a goal from San Jose’s Khari Stephenson stalled the celebrations for just a bit.
San Jose, a reeling club that came into the match with just one win in their last 15 matches, proved a handful for the Timbers, dominating possession and proving to be well worth the 1-1 draw.
The action kicked into gear inside 10 minutes when forward Darlington Nagbe and San Jose defender Bobby Burling both contested a high ball just outside the box. It fell to Nagbe, and as Burling gathered himself, the rookie was already around him with a clear look at the goal.
Instead of shooting, he crossed to Cooper, who chipped it over sprawling Quakes goalkeeper Jon Busch for his sixth goal of the season.
Three minutes later, Nagbe forced Busch into an incredible reflex save. But then the offensive spigot ran dry for the Timbers, and San Jose took over.
The Earthquakes’ best chance at a first-half goal came in the 37th minute when forward Chris Wondolowski found himself wide open in the penalty area on a brilliant look from midfielder Rafael Baca. But Wondolowski took one too many touches, and his chance was broken up by defender Eric Brunner and midfielder Diego Chara.
In all, San Jose took four shots on goal in the first half, all stoned by Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins. San Jose out-shot Portland 19 to 16 for the game.
Playing with fire finally cost Portland in the 70th minute when Stephenson collected a centering pass from Baca, spun and fired just inside Perkins’ right post for the leveler.
San Jose nearly escaped with three points, but a wide-open shot by midfielder Ramiro Corrales in the 84th minute sailed just high. And then three minutes later, a header by Wondolowski drew a fantastic diving save out of Perkins.
With a sellout crowd of 18,627 prodding on the surging Timbers, midfielder Kalif Alhassan and Brunner nearly connected for a goal off a Jewsbury corner kick as the clock ran down, but Busch broke up the Brunner attempt.
The point temporarily puts Portland alone in the 10th and final playoff position with 37 points from 29 games, just ahead of New York on 36. Both teams have five games remaining, and the two square off at New York on Saturday.
San Jose (6-11-12, 30 points) next travel to Colorado on Saturday.
POR -- Kenny Cooper 6 (Darlington Nagbe 3) 9
SJ -- Khari Stephenson 5 (Rafael Baca 2) 70
SJ -- Sam Cronin (caution; Reckless Foul) 52
POR -- Jack Jewsbury (caution; Reckless Foul) 80
POR -- Jorge Perlaza (caution; Reckless Tackle) 86
SJ -- Rafael Baca (caution; Reckless Tackle) 92+
San Jose Earthquakes -- Jon Busch, Steven Beitashour, Nana Attakora, Bobby Burling, Justin Morrow, Rafael Baca, Sam Cronin (Maxwell Griffin 76), Ramiro Corrales, Simon Dawkins, Khari Stephenson, Chris Wondolowski.
Substitutes Not Used: Joey Gjertsen, Chris Leitch, Matt Luzunaris, Jacob Peterson, Brad Ring, David Bingham.
Portland Timbers -- Troy Perkins, Lovel Palmer, Eric Brunner, Mamadou Danso, Mike Chabala, Sal Zizzo, Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara (James Marcelin 83), Kalif Alhassan, Kenny Cooper (Bright Dike 85), Darlington Nagbe (Jorge Perlaza 75).
Substitutes Not Used: Eric Alexander, David Horst, Rodney Wallace, Jake Gleeson.
Referee: Michael Kennedy
Referee's Assistants: Bill Dittmar; Paul Scott
4th Official: Allen Chapman
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Sunny and 83 degrees