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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Timbers vs. San Jose Earthquakes: High-Pitched Live Blog Action!

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Sun, Apr 14, 2013 at 7:20 PM


UPDATE: The Timbers prevailed in yet another testy match, defeating San Jose 1-0 on Sunday night behind a timely a pregame text message, an on-field homophobic slur and a world-class bender from Capt. Will Johnson.

The fiery Canadian's 78th minute free-kick-goal came after Earthquake forward (and former Timber) Alan Gordon called Johnson a "fucking faggot" prior to being sent off the field for his second yellow card of the night. Johnson responded by throwing up three fingers—one for each of the games Gordon figures to be suspended by a league with little tolerance for such hateful garbage.

"I think it's probably better I don't comment on that," Johnson said to reporters post-match. "It's a very sensitive matter."

Gordon was escorted out of the locker room by team officials and didn't speak from the press. The Earthquakes, did, however, issue a statement on Gordon's behalf: "I would like to sincerely apologize to everyone who watched tonight’s match on NBC Sports Network. The language I used came during a heated moment and does not reflect my feelings toward the gay and lesbian community. I made a mistake and I accept full responsibility for my actions."

That ugly moment marred an otherwise great night for Portland, which won consecutive matches for just the third time in MLS franchise history. Porter, who noted Johnson spent 20 minutes after practice on Thursday booming those bending free kicks, said he texted Johnson and told him he had a "weird feeling" his on-field captain would deliver the same come match-time.

"I said, 'Why don't you smack a free-kick-goal today?'" Porter said postgame. "So when he hit it, I couldn't believe it."

Believe this: With the win, the Timbers vaulted from eighth to third in the MLS Western Conference table—a full seven points ahead of winless Seattle (oh by the way). And for the second staright week, Portland won by standing its ground in a chippy home match.

"[San Jose has] got a group of guys that roll up their sleeves and fight," Porter said. "We have no problem with it. We'll fight, too. We're not going to back down."

Click past the jump for minute-by-minute HOT LIVE BLOG ACTION, plus full video of Porter's postgame presser. Go!

We're LIVE at The Jelly, where streaking will be encouraged at 7:30 tonight when your Portland Timbers host the San Jose Earthquakes.

The Timbers seek consecutive wins for just the third time in their Major League Soccer history, once again shuffling their lineup after injuries to midfielder Diego Valeri and defender David Horst last week. Things worked out just fine for Portland then, thanks to a revitalized Darlington Nagbe moving into Valeri's space and an evolving Kalif Alhassan helping spur the Portland attack. Such makeshift moves may have looked smooth on offense, but the cog installed by coach Caleb Porter to shore up the back line—young Andrew Jean-Baptiste—is out tonight with an abductor strain. Former USL Timber Futty Danso makes his first start of the year, but the defense enters as thin as its ever been against 2012 Golden Boot champ Chris Wondolowski.

By the time these teams had met three times last season, they'd had about enough of each other. Due to a scheduling quirk, this year's squads will see one another again next week.

San Jose (2-2-2, 8 pts)—Jon Busch in goal. Justin Morrow, Victor Bernardez, Ty Harden and Dan Gargan on defense. Rafael Baca, Ramiro Corrales, Chris Wondolowski and Sam Cronin at midfield. Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart.
On the bench: David Bingham, Nana Attakora, Adam Jahn, Brad Ring, Abu Tommy, Cordell Cato, Michael Fucito.

Portland (1-1-3, 6 pts)—Donovan Ricketts in goal. Jack Jewsbury, Futty Danso, Mikael Silvestre and Michael Harrington on defense. Diego Chara, Darlington Nagbe, Capt. Will Johnson and Kalif Alhassan at midfield. Ryan Johnson and Rodney Wallace up front.
On the bench: Milos Kocic, Frederic Piquionne, Ryan Miller, Ben Zemanski, Michael Nanchoff, Jose Valencia, Dylan Tucker-Gagnes.

San Jose fans were out packed their small section in the Southwest corner of the stadium more than an hour before pregame. I'd say there's more than 100 of them here tonight.

Big boos for Wondo and Lenhart pre-game. I'm told by press box neighbor Mike Donovan that the last time that pair started alongside the former Timber Gordon, Wondolowski had a had trick en route to a 4-1 SJ win over Colorado last year.

Big cheers pre-game for Alhassan, including the longest rendition of the "Kalif, Kalif—put your hands up!" chant I've heard. Soak it up, kid. A large "NO DIVING, LENNY" sign in the South end. Timbers clad in their home white shorts and green tops, while the 'Quakes are rocking their blue shorts and blouses. Ricketts sporting all black.

If the Timbers win tonight, they'll leap five teams all the way to third place in the West.

FIRST HALF: And away we go! Timbers heading South to start.

1st minute—Futty gets tested twice early as San Jose plays direct right from the whistle. His first right-footed clearance is sent quickly back into the box, but Futty shows no rust with a header away less than 30 seconds later.

3rd—First foul of the night and Porter isn't happy with the call. Cronin will line one up just inside of midfield. It's sent in and headed by Lenhart toward Wondo, but the Timbers clear. They bring the crowd up a bit with their first counter of the night, but San Jose defends.

5th—Clash of styles early as SJ keeps thumping it forward and Portland looks to slow things down and establish its possession style. So far, neither side establishing its preferred way.

7th—Johnson with a short diagonal ball for Nagbe, but it's a bit long. Cronin hammers it back to Busch, who's a bit surprised by it and lasers it back toward his bench. Nagbe is so caught off guard that he doesn't react a ball nearly as his feet. It'll be a throw-in for Portland, but that awkward could've been much more.

9th—Timbers with about a dozen consecutive passes, but they just can't complete the one that puts the Quakes in danger. Some good-looking ball movement early out of Portland, however, which is just what Porter is looking for.

10th—Timbers on the counter and after Johnson finds some space outside the top of the box, he finds Jewsbury working his way back to the middle. The Club Cap'n fires from distance, but it's knocked down immediately. Seconds later, Alhassan draws a foul, and it'll be a free kick coming from Jewsbury.

12th—Baca with a poor pass right to Johnson, who's so surprised by his good fortune that his attempt to dink it back to Chara is short. Gift received, gift given.

13th—Wallace earns a corner in the Southeast corner, and quickly throws into Harrington. He attempts a cross toward the far post, but Busch is there to leap and collect it.

15th—Nagbe runs ahead into the attacking third and switches to Wallace, who knocks it down, cuts back and hits a change-up to the far post. Busch lets the Timbers' best chance of the night go past, but a nice strike nonetheless from Wallace starting his second straight match.

17th—Ricketts knocks one the length of the field for Johnson, but it's just a bit too long for him. Nice through-ball for Ricketts, who stretches the SJ defense there. That'll keep 'em honest, right?

18th—Jewsbury with a ball into the box for Johnson, who tries to get around Bernardez but fouls him in the process. Fans booing, thinking Bernardez flopped there, but he's staying down and milking it a bit. Replay shows Johnson just did get his arm, but a pretty iffy foul there. Bernardez will jog off for a moment and Portland will have an advantage when we get going again.

20th—It's a short-lived advantage as Bernardez gets right back out there. Miracle recovery!

23rd—Corrales tries to send a cross in, but Chara steps right in front to wear one LIKE A BOSS. San Jose controls and sends another in, but Silvestre is there to craftily knock it off his chest and into the waiting hands of Ricketts.

25th—After the Timbers have a short-lived counter attack, Lenhart flicks on a header toward Baca in the box. He fires one low and Ricketts steps in front to knock it down in front of him and leap on top of it.

26th—Will Johnson fouled at midfield by Cronin. Borderline yellow there, but not enough to merit a card.

27th—Nagbe with a steal on Cronin and goes a back-and-forth with Will Johnson. He passes ahead and finds Nagbe heading toward the box. His left-footed shot is low, and Busch collects. On the next possession, Jewsbury streaks down the West sideline and fires a cross, but Busch is again there to leap and grab it.

30th—Timbers sneaking down the West sideline with three straight throw ins. They finally break through and find Nagbe running ahead, and he's taken down hard in the box by Baca. Awkward challenge from behind, but it looked like it was all ball. Portland will have a corner kick, and Jewsbury lines it up.

31st—Corner goes far post and eventually finds its way to Wallace, who dances and attempts a shot from 30 yards. No problem for Busch, and it'll be a goal kick for SJ.

33rd—Corrales takes a left-footed blast that screams off Futty's leg, but on the follow through it looks like his shoulder catches Futty in the head. Futty is still down, and that's not good.

34th—Futty back on his feet and they'll walk him off for a moment. Looks to be OK.

35th—We're back at it, and after the Timbers quick play it forward, Alhassan chests one down and fires well over the goal.

36th—Free kick coming for San Jose, and it'll be Cronin. He sends it in toward the penalty spot and it somehow finds the foot of Gordon, who gets a foot on it but sends it wide. Looks like Alhassan might have missed his mark there, and that's a good chance wasted for the Quakes.

38th—Chara with a nice little ball up ahead to Nagbe, who looks for Johnson. It's deflected down in front of Johnson, but not close enough to get a shot away. Portland remains the aggressor, playing both the direct balls ahead and looking strong with the possession-with-a-purpose style they've showcased over the past couple matches.

40th—Chara fouled hard by Gordon about 35 yards out and he's rolling around, grabbing his right ankle. No foul called. Just like last match, this one is getting quite chippy down the stretch of the first half. Chara is helped off, and it'll be a yellow card for Gordon.

42nd—Chara back on, and we're back at it.

43rd—Silverstre sends a long ball into the box for Johnson, and he heads it forward. Doesn't mater, though, as the flag goes up and he's called offside.

44th—Nagbe goes screaming into the box, but can't quite get the handle on it for a shot. On the clearance, Chara called for a yellow card just outside of the midfield circle. Fans hate the call, but the always-physical Chara isn't exactly known for taking it easy.

Five minutes of stoppage ... After Alhassan tries a bicycle kick the ball finds its way to Jewsbury, who sends one in. Busch rises to grab it, no problem ... Wallace tries a left-footed cross for Johnson, but it's won by Harden. Timbers with a throw-in in a dangerous spot, but before Johnson can manage a shot, he's surrounded. Portland plays it back and Harrington plays another into the box for Nagbe and Johnson, but SJ clears.... Johnson tries a cross in the waning seconds, but it's chested down by Morrow and Busch collects.

HALFTIME: We're scoreless after an increasingly physical first half. Portland dominated possession 62.5% and out-passed San Jose 285-172 but couldn't quite manage the last pass they needed to notch one on the scoreboard. No outstanding chances for either side as San Jose hunkers down on defense a bit. Eight of the Timbers' nine goals scored this season have come in the second half—will that trend continue?

SECOND HALF: Timbers playing toward their Army, looking for that one last touch.

46th—Long ball played immediately to Nagbe, but Busch beats him to the ball in the box. Timbers almost strike right out of the locker room there.

49th—Timbers with some possession just outside the box and Ryan Johnson has a couple chances to head it forward, but San Jose will defend. Timbers regain possession and RJohnson is tackled very hard in the Southeast corner. Ouch, that was a very dangerous challenge there, a yellow for sure. Timbers Army rains boos and Johnson's teammates run over to get up in Bernardez's grill. Silvestre, in particular, looks upset.

50th—Timbers' corner is cleared immediately and here come the 'Quakes. They run ahead on the counter, but Portland snuffs it out. Timbers now try their counter and play ahead to Alhassan, who looks for Harrington running down the East sideline. It's just long, though, and it'll be San Jose ball. Physical play has continued here, as both teams look to establish their desired pace.

53rd—Chara and Lenhart really mixing it up in the Northwest corner. Lenhart waving his arms and Chara knocks him down. It'll be a corner for San Jose. Cronin sends it in and it's headed toward the goal, forcing Wallace to boot it high and out of play. Another throw-in in the attacking third coming.

55th—San Jose manages to keep it in Portland's end with another corner. It's sent in low and knocked away by Chara. Again knocked out and another throw coming. This time, however, Gargan is called for an illegal throw and it'll be a throw-in for the Timbers.

58th—Alhassan with a header ahead to Ryan Johnson who works against Bernardez. He tries a shot but it's knocked over the line for a corner. Jewsbury sends it in and Silvestre tries a header, but again it's knocked over the line for another corner. Here comes another corner and Nagbe with a touch-and-volley that screams right past the post.

59th—Another one finds its way to Johnson, whose cross goes all the way across the box, but it's just long for Nagbe. Timbers will have another corner.

60th—Timbers send it in short and try to put it toward the a dangerous area on a second service, but Busch is there to grab it out of danger.

61st—San Jose on a free kick after a Futty foul. Cronin sends it in and Futty dives to clear it away. Harden serves one into the box and Ricketts fields it like a center fielder nabbing a routine foul ball.

62nd—Alhassan working on the San Jose defense, dancing a bit before attempting a chip shot. Busch skies to grab it. Nice idea by Kalif, who's certainly tried that shot before.

63rd—Wallace tries a mighty dangerous ball that goes through the box. It's meant for Ryan Johnson, but it's just a bit long. Good look there by Wallace, and the Timbers appear to be getting closer to striking here.

64th—San Jose subs: Cato for Leonard, Attakora for Harden.

66th—Nice give-and-go between Alhassan and Wallace leads to another corner. Johnson quickly bends one in, and Busch gets in front of his defense to grab it. Timbers still knocking at the door, window and shed, but they just can't break through just yet.

67th—Harrington with a steal and Wallace is quick to cross it toward Johnson, who leaps but just can't stretch enough to get a foot on it. Another very dangerous ball by Wallace.

68th—Gordon elbows Silvestre in the face on a 50-50 ball and he comes up shoving Gordon. For good reason: He caught Silvestre with the elbow, now Silvestre's lip is bleeding. He's fired up and so is this crowd. It'll be another yellow card for Gordon, and he's off.

69th—San Jose will play a man down the rest of the way after Gordon picks up his second yellow. Silvestre comes back on and the Timbers have a huge advantage here—you have to think the way they've been controlling the action, a goal is imminent.

71st—And Chara looks pretty fired up to have that advantage. He sends a cross halfway to Hillsboro there. Goal kick for San Jose coming.

72nd—Will Johnson fires from nearly 40 yards out, and it's wide left of the post. Busch wouldn't have had much of a problem with that one.

74th—San Jose doing a very nice job keeping its shape with 10 men. Harrington dancing around the top of the 18 and blasts, but Bernardez heads it down and over the goal West sideline. Some nifty moves for Harrington, and the Timbers have yet to get a real good chance since going a man up.

75th—Nagbe gets a little space and attempts a shot, but it's well high. Not the worst idea, but not the best execution.

76th—Another corner kick after Johnson gets around Attakora, who is forced to knock it over the goal line. Corner sent in and Ryan Johnson heads one ahead for Alhassan, who gets a header on it, but it's over the bar. Knock, knock, knock.

77th—Nagbe separates from a trio of defenders and somehow gets it to Alhassan, who's tripped up just outside the 18. Dangerous spot and the 'Quakes are furious.

78thTIMBERS GOAL What a strike by Will Johnson! He bends it beautifully over the wall and into the upper left corner to give Portland a 1-0 lead. That ball had net written all over it, and an outstretched Busch had no chance. The Timbers are finally rewarded after knocking on the door for this entire half.

82nd—Timbers sub: Zemanski will come on for Nagbe.

83rd—Timbers content to knock it around the pitch a bit now that they have this lead and an extra man. Portland would be quite happy with a boring 10 minutes to close this out.

84th—The former Timber/Sounder Fucito checks on to a chorus of boos. He's on for Corrales. For the Timbers, Piquionne is on for Alhassan. Fans give Kalif a big cheer, and he's earned it.

86th—Chara running and gunning down the East sideline like we're in the opening minute. Does he ever get tired? He finally gets it back in the box and knocks it off a SJ defender for a corner. Jewsbury sends it in out-swinging, and Johnson gets a rising header on it—just over the cross bar. That one didn't miss by much.

88th—Long throw into the box headed forward by Baca and Ricketts just beats Fucito to the the ball. They collide and the latter is called for a foul.

89th—Cronin sends one into the box, but Ricketts is there to sky and nab it. No problem for Ricketts, who cracks one all the way down to Busch.

90th—Cronin levels Wallace, who spins off him and goes down. He looks like he'll be fine and we're heading to extra time now.

Four minutes of extra time ... Timbers not done yet, as Piquionne plays one ahead to Chara, who gets away a nifty pass into the box for Zemanski, but it's just long. ... Ryan Miller will come on for Ryan Johnson...Long header sent into the box and Wondolowski has a wide-open header from seven yards out, but Ricketts is there to grab it. Wow, that would've been huge. How did Wondo get that open?...A minute later, San Jose again sends it for Wondo, and Cato is there to mix it up with Miller, but not before Wondo is called for a handball.

FINAL: Timbers win, 1-0! Back-to-back wins for Portland for the first this season as they secure a clean sheet for the second straight match. Portland started the night in 8th place out west—90 minutes and three points later, they're in sole possession of third.


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