Unlike other visitors to Portland this season, the San Jose Earthquakes did not have to face the usual roar and chants of the Timbers Army at Jeld-Wen Field alone. A charter bus pulled up before the game and disgorged a stream of blue-painted fans shouting “Earthquakes! Earthquakes!” with a vigor to rival the hometown crowd.
Unlike other visitors to Portland this season, the San Jose Earthquakes did not have to face the usual roar and chants of the Timbers Army at Jeld-Wen Field alone. A charter bus pulled up before the game and disgorged a stream of blue-painted fans shouting “Earthquakes! Earthquakes!” with a vigor to rival the hometown crowd. While nowhere near the size of the Timbers contingent, the San Jose fans were loud and rowdy, ready for a tough match on the road. So ready, in fact, that security had to corral them into a single section and remain close by to prevent any possible scuffles.
Coming off a big win over Houston last week, the Timbers were looking to keep the momentum rolling against their Western Conference rivals, but San Jose was more than up to the challenge.
The action was tense throughout the first 45 minutes, with the scored knotted at 0-0 going into halftime. The Timbers controlled possession for 63 percent of the first half by virtue of superb passing. San Jose was less successful with their passing accuracy, but managed to prevent the Timbers from finding good opportunities to score. Though the Earthquake fan section remained relatively civil, there were a couple of dust-ups on the field, with each team receiving a yellow card for fouls.
That trend continued in the second half as San Jose came out strong and established a presence in the Timbers box in the opening minutes. In the 50th minute, the Quakes’ Victor Bernardez fouled Ryan Johnson to nab another yellow card for San Jose. He was followed in the 69th minute by Alan Gordon, who elbowed Portland’s Mikael Silvestre in the face as they both went up for a header, causing Silvestre to bleed profusely from the mouth and earning Gordon a red card. Silvestre left the game to be attended to, but returned shortly after.
In the 77th minute, San Jose’s Ramiro Corrales fouled Kalif Alhassan hard, prompting a free kick. As Will Johnson lined up for the Timbers, the Earthquakes formed a wall but could do nothing to stop Johnson’s shot, which arched high over them into the upper left corner of the net to give the Timbers a 1-0 lead.
“It was kind of funny—I texted [Johnson] today, and I had a weird feeling that he was going to hit a free kick,” Timbers head coach Caleb Porter said after the game. I said ‘Why don’t you smack a free kick goal today?’ And when he hit it, I couldn’t believe it.”
Johnson, for his part, was a bit more analytical about the goal. “We’ve been working on [free kicks] a lot this week,” he said. “I got it for him, so there you go. It was a special play, but there were a lot of special plays out there tonight.”
The Timbers continued to hold the Earthquakes at bay throughout the remainder of the game, shutting down the Earthquakes’ top three of Gordon, Chris Wondolowski and Steven Lenhart. With the win, Portland moved up to the third spot in the Western Conference.
“[It’s] another positive step along this journey of where we want to be at the end of the year,” Porter said. “I thought we earned it—it was a tight game. All you need is one to win, and that is what we found.”
The Timbers now move on to San Jose for their next game on April 21, where they’ll face the Earthquakes in a rematch that is sure to be another physical meeting.