From most any perspective, it's clear history won't look kindly on the 2012 Timbers.
Taking the Cascadia Cup last weekend dulled some of Timbers Army's pain, but there's definitely a feeling that Portland will be starting from scratch in 2013 as a third-year Major League Soccer franchise.
Tonight, in their final match of a shaky year, the Timbers once again face being on the wrong side of history. The Supporters' Shield-winning San Jose Earthquakes enter tonight seeking a postseason tune-up and an MLS record for "red-hot" striker Chris Wondolowski.
How will the Timbers counter? Well, with little to play for but impressing the omnipresent Caleb Porter, expect to see a lineup peppered with players fans see as the future of the franchise. That includes 2012 SuperDraft pick Andrew Jean-Baptiste, whose season comes full circle. The 20-year old defender was the hero of his first MLS start (Portland's opener against Philly) and now will face the task of helping prevent Wondo from getting the record as injuries have forced Hanyer Mosquera, Futty Danso and Eric Brunner to the bench.
The weather is fitting of this season's finale: Mostly awful, with occasional misery. But let's see this thing through, shall we? So click past the jump and follow along, as I deftly describe all the action, on and off the pitch.
San Jose (19-6-8, 65 pts)—Jon Busch in goal. Steven Beitashour, Victor Bernandez, Jason Hernandez and Justin Morrow on defense. Marvin Chavez, Rafael Baca, Sam Cronin and Shea Salinas at midfield. Chris Wondolowski and Steven Lenhart up front.
Portland (8-16-9, 33 pts)—Donovan Ricketts in goal. Kosuke Kimura, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, David Horst and Steven Smith on defense. Sal Zizzo, Eric Alexander, Diego Chara and Darlington Nagbe at midfield. Bright Dike and Danny Mwanga up front. On the bench: Sabastian Rincon, Brent Richards, Mike Fucito, Rodney Wallace, Kalif Alhassan, Ryan Kawulok and Joe Bendik.
No Jewsbury or Songo'o tonight.
PREGAME: Timbers Army chanting "WE WANT THE CUP!" as the rain swirls around Goose Hollow. Well kids, you got it. Fans gave a nice, healthy boo to Wondo when he was introduced. And after a testy final minutes in their last meeting, I'm thinking Portland's piecemeal back line might have a few more things to say.
Will we see the Horst rage face (which is a slight variation of this)?
About 30 fans holding up two-sticks with players' numbers. Classy.
FIRST HALF: And away we go ... Timbers heading toward their Army for the final time in 2012.
1st minute—Action in Portland's end at the start. Horst knocks it back to Ricketts after Wondo's first touch. Kimura clears and after a throw, Zizzo knocks one over the end line.
3rd—Smith with a run down the west side and puts one in the box for Mwanga, but it's a bit strong. San Jose clears ahead to Salinas, who passes ahead looking for Wondo, but it's no issue for Ricketts.
4th—On the other end, Smith sends another one into the box for Mwanga, but it's a bit high. Timbers earn the corner kick, but Zizzo airmails the pack.
6th—Zizzo plays one forward for Dike, but Bright's about 60 feet offside.
7th—Ricketts with a long goal kick that's misplayed by Bernandez nearly over the goal line. But Busch goes into a full sprint to slide and avoid the corner. Dike and Salinas come together just outside the box and it'll be a free kick for SJ.
8th—On a SJ throw-in in front of their own bench, Lenhart knocks down Horst in the box. Free kick Portland it's officially taken seven minutes for this thing to get chippy.
10th—Smith finds some space and dribbles ahead. After a back-and-forth with Nagbe, Smith gets it to Mwanga in the box. His left-footed shot isn't struck very well and it's no problem for Busch.
13th—Horst and Wondo come together at midfield and San Jose's striker gets the worst of it. No foul, but the ref is talking to Horst after Kimura knocks one over the east sideline for a Quakes throw. Action picks up and Salinas breaks free to get 1-on-1 with Ricketts. But Horst slides in to knock it away. Goal-saving tackle there.
14th—Corner comes in and it's headed on goal, but Salinas tries to re-direct it. Nope. It sails wide, but those are two unmarked headers in the box for SJ.
17th—Mwanga tries to play one in for Dike, but it's long and headed toward the west sideline. Dike tries to chase it down and comes together with Busch. The keeper goes down and that'll be a foul every time when it's a goalkeeper on the other end.
19th—Portland with some crisp passing a decent footwork on San Jose's end, but nothing comes of it. Alexander looking calm over the ball and Zizzo making some good decisions thus far.
21st—Baca fires from just outside the box, but Ricketts goes sliding to his left for the stop.
23rd—Zizzo comes screaming up the side and sends one into the box, but it's punched away. On the counter, Lenhart with a dangerous run that forces Ricketts out. They collide, and it'll be a PK for San Jose. Hmm... I wonder who will take it?
24th—EARTHQUAKES GOAL Wondo slams it left past a diving Ricketts, and he's tied the all-time record for goals in a single season on a penalty kick. Give Lenhart the (unofficial) assist on that one. We've seen history here today, as Wondo ties the record. Will he break it? Either way, San Jose leads 1-0.
29th—Zizzo with a terrible clearance attempt and Chavez nearly makes him pay. He fires, but it's high and wide. Timbers dodge one there.
31st—Earthquakes with a corner. Chavez sends it in, but Dike is there to head it away low.
36th—Timbers pass one through for Smith, who attempts to find Dike in the box. Busch comes out to grab it, but nice hustle by Smith.
37th—Wondo and Smith collide at midfield and the Scotsman got the worst of it. He's down at midfield getting looked at, and the ref is giving Wondo a talking to.
38th—Timbers with corner that's popped around the box and makes its way to Jean-Baptiste's head. He settles it, turns and fires a beautiful curling shot, but it JUST misses the top corner. Great strike there for the rookie, who nearly bookended his season with an equalizing goal.
40th—Lenhart and Horst running in stride as San Jose picks up the pressure. They're really going at it. I think we're in for a chippy second half.
43rd—Long pass goes into the box for Wondo, who takes a perfect touch before Horst comes flying in for the record-saving tackle. Great play by Horst, as that would've been easy pickings for Wondo.
44th—Smith sends one in for Nagbe, but it's knocked away. Appeared to be close to a handball (according to TA), but San Jose knocks it away. Zizzo sends a lofting ball into the box, but Busch is there to nab it.
One minute of extra time ... Zizzo gets behind the defense after a great pass from Jean-Baptiste. He has Dike coming up the middle, but Zizzo's cross is nuked over everyone. Yikes.
HALFTIME: San Jose leads, 1-0.
SOME STATS: San Jose out-shot Portland 5-2 and had the only shot on target. Portland won 55% of the duels, but San Jose had 53% of the possession.
SECOND HALF: We're back at it with no lineup changes. Timbers heading toward the south end. I can almost hear the screams of agony/rain of boos that will commence should Wondo net another one ... right in front of Timber Army.
47th—Zizzo with a run down the west side and crosses. It's high over Mwanga's head, but Lenhart is forced to volley it over the line for a Portland corner. Zizzo sends it in, but Morrow heads it away.
48th—Mwanga knocks it back to Smith on the overlap and he sends it in the box. San Jose forced to head it over the line, and again, we'll have a corner in the south end.
49th—Zizzo sends it long but it's over Horst's head. It's headed down and gets back to Horst, who fires it from 25 yards. It's apparently not deflected, and it'll be a goal kick for San Jose.
51st—Smith with a nice ball down the line to Nagbe. He runs into the box and fires, and it's deflected over the line by Chavez. Zizzo with a low corner, and it's cleared for a moment. Horst and Lenhart come together and it'll be a foul on Lenhart.
53rd—Kimura takes one into the box and shows why he's a defender, promptly dribbling it out of bounds.
55th—Nagbe fouled from behind by Salinas. They'll have a free kick in a dangerous spot, straight on from 35 out.
56th—Zizzo fires the free kick and it's deflected by the wall and over the goal line. Here comes another corner for Portland, but before we do that, Morrow is tended to by SJ trainers.
57th—Zizzo sends in the corner but Lenhart knocks it away. Timbers maintain and Nagbe looks for Mwanga, but it's a touch strong.
61st—Timbers controlling possession and keeping it in San Jose's. Ricketts looking a bit bored out there.
62nd—Mwanga with a lazy pass that Beitashour takes away. He then sends a beautiful long ball for Lenhart in the box. He's all alone with Jean-Baptiste and squares up, but his shot is right at Ricketts.
65th—Wondo gets one in the box and fires left-footed. Ricketts dives to his left and knocks it away for Jean-Baptiste to clear.
66th—Portland can't clear and Lenhart finds Wondo in the same spot. He'll have a header, but it's just wide. So very close to the record there. Khari Stephenson checks in for San Jose, and the man he's replacing, Lenhart is booed as he spins and claps (sarcastically) for the fans. Dude definitely relishes the villain role, and Timbers Army is happy to play along.
67th—TIMBERS GOAL Dike ties it up after a bad San Jose giveaway in their own end. Dike's first shot is knocked right back to him and he doesn't miss a second time. We're tied at 1.
69th—Smith with a cross meant for Mwanga, but it's just long. Timbers are dominating the action in the second half. Can they translate that into a goal?
70th—Beitashour lofts one toward the goal and Ricketts is there with a diving tip over the bar. Great play there. Corner comes in and knocked away, and Nagbe is off to the races.
72nd—Mwanga picking things up with a nice run. He chips ahead to Zizzo in the box, but Busch with a nice read to come out and grab it.
74th—San Jose sub. Ike Opara on for Bernandez.
75th—Earthquakes are picking things up in this second half. Mwanga with a long ball ahead to Dike, but he can't get a soft touch on it. Timbers will make their first change—Kalif Alhassan comes on for Alexander.
76th—Alhassan draws a foul right away. Zizzo sends one from 45 out and Horst skies to head it, but collides with Busch. Big collision there between two big dudes. San Jose will take over possession.
78th—Baca sends it in for Opara, but he's well offside as he jumps up for a header. Ricketts will have a goal kick.
79th—Smith plays one long into the box for Zizzo, but he can't get a good header on it thanks to Morrow breaking first on it. Goal kick coming for SJ.
80th—Subs for both teams. For San Jose, Sam Garza comes on for Chavez. For Portland, Mike Fucito is on for Dike.
81st—Paid attendance tonight is 20,438—Portland's 34th consecutive MLS sellout.
84th—Final singing of "You are my Sunshine" by Timbers Army this season as it looks like Brent Richards is preparing to check in. Wondo fires one from 40 and the TA cheers loudly as the ball sails into the stands.
85th—Salinas with a corner kick that's sent out to Hernandez. He knocks it forward but Ricketts is there to grab it. Fans raising their voices a bit as they notice Chara with a clear run up the sideline. Unfortunately for them, Ricketts doesn't notice.
87th—Richards is in for Kimura. Timbers with an offensive-minded sub to try to pull out a win here.
88th—Timbers with lots of possession here. Smith sends one into the box for Fucito, but San Jose heads it away.
89th—Richards with a long throw that ends up at Chara's feet, but he holds off on the shot. Fans groan a bit.
90th—Mwanga and Beitashour come together just inside midfield and Mwanga is called for the foul. Free kick is sent in and immediately knocked away. San Jose gets it back and fires in again, and Ricketts is there to knock it over the bar. On the corner, Opara has a free header, but it's right at Ricketts. Wow, that was close.
Three minutes of stoppage ... Richards goes ahead to Nagbe, but he can't get a good angle. It's knocked over the and it'll be a corner for Portland ... Zizzo bends it in and Jean-Baptiste gets the top of his head on it, but the ball bounds away. ... Richards takes a shot that deflects off a SJ defender. Here comes a corner, the final chance? Zizzo sends it in, but it's waaaaaay over everyone. That should do it.
FINAL: It's a 1-1 draw. Wondo ties the record and Portland dominates the second half, but the Timbers' season ends in a tie.
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