San Jose Earthquakes 1, Portland Timbers 2 | MLS Match Recap
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The Portland Timbers kept pace in the Western Conference playoff chase with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night at Buck Shaw Stadium. Rodney Wallace scored both Timbers’ goals over a three minute span midway through the second half after Chris Wondolowski had opened the scoring for San Jose.
With Vancouver winning their match earlier in the day, Portland needed the win to remain just one point behind the Whitecaps for the last playoff spot in the West. For San Jose, the loss stretched the Earthquakes’ winless streak to 11 games, and eliminated them from playoff consideration in 2014.
Portland was playing without their two of their starting midfielders, with Diego Valeri serving a one-game suspension due to yellow card accumulation, and Will Johnson out for the rest of the season with a fractured leg.
Both teams struggled to create quality chances in the opening half, and failed to do much when scoring opportunities presented themselves. Portland’s Darlington Nagbe was open from point blank range early, but hit his shot right at Jon Busch, who easily pushed it over the crossbar.
San Jose’s best chance came when Donovan Ricketts couldn’t handle Sam Cronin’s long range shot cleanly, and the rebound fell to Wondolowski, who missed wide from a tight angle.
In first half stoppage time, a Gaston Fernandez corner kick found Liam Ridgewell at the far post for an open header, but Busch was able to deflect his shot off the crossbar to keep the game scoreless.
San Jose broke through in the 56th minute, when Shea Salinas served up a pass to Wondolowski inside the six. Ricketts made the first save, but the relentless Wondolowski easily knocked in the rebound to put the Earthquakes on top.
The goal was Wondolowski’s 14th of the season, and he now has nine goals and four assists in 15 games since returning from World Cup duty.
But Wallace answered for Portland 15 minutes later, spinning to hit a shot from 15 yards that was deflected on its way towards goal. And two minutes later, Wallace struck again, deflecting in a Ridgewell header with a deflection off his own head to give the Timbers a lead they would not relinquish.
San Jose tried to scratch out an equalizer late, but Ricketts denied Wondolowski from close range, then later hung on top Atiba Harris’ header.
In second half stoppage time, San Jose’s Pablo Pintos earned a red card for clattering into Wallace with a dangerous tackle to end San Jose’s night on a sour note.
The Earthquakes have missed the playoffs in consecutive years after winning the Supporters' Shield in 2012.
With the win, Portland’s record rises to 10-9-12. With three games left on the schedule, the Timbers own the first tiebreaker advantage over Vancouver (wins, 10-9) and also the second tie breaker (goal differential, Portland is +4), but still remain a point shy of their Cascadia rivals.
Portland and San Jose both head north for a rematch Wednesday night at Providence Park.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Rodney Wallace||Was basically Johnny on the spot for the second goal, but put the ball in the back of the net twice late to grab a big win|
|2||Chris Wondolowski||Took care of business on his end by notching a goal after getting stuffed on the first chance, but lead didn't hold up|
|3||Ben Zemanski||A lot of talk about him replacing Will Johnson before the game, but Zemanski was assured in the middle for the Timbers|