PORTLAND, Ore. – A textbook curling free-kick goal by Will Johnson gave the Portland Timbers their second win in as many games and highlighted a fierce battle between Western Conference rivals in a 1-0 victory Sunday night over the San Jose Earthquakes.
Johnson lined up just beyond the penalty area after Timbers forward Kalif Alhassan was sent crashing to the turf by Earthquakes midfielder Ramiro Corrales in the 77th minute. And after being stymied all night by a stout San Jose defense, Johnson’s curling effort over the wall to the inside post and just beyond the reach of diving goalkeeper Jon Busch finally broke the seal, sending the sellout crowd at JELD-WEN Field into a frenzy.
Portland’s victory leapfrogs them into third place with nine points from six games after staring the night in eighth. San Jose nearly escaped with their second straight draw despite seeing the Timbers dominate offensively, but fall into a tie with five teams all on eight points.
The rough-and-tumble game that featured five bookings came to a crescendo when San Jose forward Alan Gordon saw his second yellow of the night in the 67th minute for catching Portland defender Mikael Silvestre in the face with a flying elbow that left the Frenchman bloodied on the lip. From there, the Timbers dialed up the pressure even more on the 10-man side.
And while the Timbers managed just two shots on goal, they created 11 shot attempts and held a 65 percent possession advantage. The relentless pressure effectively neutralized the recently reunited San Jose attacking trio of Chris Wondolowski, Gordon and Steven Lenhart.
San Jose managed just five shots on goal, just one each for Gordon and Wondolowski.
Portland, meanwhile, continued their success in head coach Caleb Porter’s possession attack despite the absence of Argentinian midfielder Diego Valeri, who missed the game after sustaining a head injury last week. Darlington Nagbe, playing in Valeri’s place at attacking midfielder fired off three shots and one on goal while teaming up with forwards Alhassan, Rodney Wallace and Ryan Johnson.
San Jose, pushing forward desperately in stoppage time, nearly leveled the match again when a Wondolowski header in the area required a reaction save from goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, his third of the night and good for a second straight clean sheet.
The two teams will meet again next Sunday, this time at San Jose’s Buck Shaw Stadium.
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.
Portland Timbers (2-1-3, 9pts) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (2-3-2, 8pts)
April 14, 2013 – JELD-WEN Field (Portland, Ore.)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
San Jose Earthquakes 0 0 0
Portland Timbers 0 1 1
POR: W. Johnson, 78
SJ: Gordon (Caution), 41
POR: Chara (Caution), 44
SJ: Bernardez (Caution), 50
SJ: Gordon (Caution), 69
SJ: Gordon (Ejection), 69
Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Ricketts, D Jewsbury, D Danso, D Silvestre, D Harrington, M Chara, M Nagbe (Zemanski, 82), M Johnson, W. ©, F Alhassan (Piquionne, 85), F Johnson, R. (Miller, 90+2), F Wallace
Substitutes Not Used: GK Kocic, D Tucker-Gangnes, M Nanchoff, F Valencia
TOTAL SHOTS: 11 (Johnson, W., Nagbe, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Johnson, W., Nagbe, 1); FOULS: 7 (Chara, Danso, 2); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 7; SAVES: 3
SJ: GK Busch, D Morrow, D Harden (Attakora, 63), D Bernardez, D Gargan, M Corrales © (Fucito, 84), M Cronin, M Baca, M Wondolowski, F Gordon, F Lenhart (Cato, 63)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Bingham, D Tommy, M Ring, F Jahn
TOTAL SHOTS: 6 (Corrales, Wondolowski, 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Three players, 1); FOULS: 12 (Gordon, 3); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 2; SAVES: 1
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Assistant Referees: Paul Scott, Bill Ditmar
4th Official: Allen Chapman
Time of Game: 1:56
Weather: 49 degrees, Overcast
All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial