BOX SCOREThe never-say-die late match magic that had carried the San Jose Earthquakes to the top of the MLS standings in the first half of the season failed to materialize in a 2-1 loss to the Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field Tuesday night.
Goals from Danny Mwanga and Jack Jewsbury staked the Timbers to a 2-0 lead early in the second half, but a late goal from Alan Gordon was all the Earthquakes could muster and their three game MLS winning streak came to an end.
The Timbers nearly opened the scoring in the 15th minute, when a long pass from Franck Songoo toward the top of the area was tipped by Earthquakes defender Victor Bernardez right to a wide open Eric Alexander on the left wing. The midfielder turned the ball back toward goal, and with a phalanx of defenders converging on him, unleashed a low shot that caromed off the left post.
Portland would get on the scoresheet in the 29th minute following a textbook counterattack following an unsuccessful Earthquakes corner kick. After disposing Rafael Baca of the ball deep in the right corner, Songoo centered the ball to Alexander and sprinted up the sideline. Alexander returned the ball to Songoo with plenty of open space ahead of him and he carried the ball all the way into the Earthquakes area. A squared pass across the six-yard box was met by Mwanga and redirected past goalkeeper David Bingham to give the Timbers a 1-0 lead.
The Timbers nearly scored another goal from the same combination in the 55th minute. With space to bring the ball into the area, Songoo elected to cross the ball back across the six-yard box to Mwanga, and the Portland forward slammed a shot off the crossbar. The effort was whistled dead for offside, but the Timbers continued to put the Earthquakes collectively on their back foot.
Portland collected their second goal of the night on a free kick in the 59th minute. The deep ball into the area looked destined for the grasp of keeper Bingham, but a challenge from Futty Danso dislodged the ball and it trickled back toward the goal line. As Bingham struggled to catch up with the loose ball, Jewsbury raced in and buried a shot into the back of the net.
The introduction of Marvin Chavez for Rafael Baca in the 59th minute and Steven Lenhart for Khari Stephenson in the 62nd minute signaled a shift to a more offensive-minded formation, and the substitutions paid dividends in short order.
The Earthquakes pulled one back in the 74th minute when a crossing attempt from Justin Morrow was deflected back out of the area directly to Chavez. He stepped into the ball and fired a shot on target that Gordon redirected past Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins for the Earthquakes first goal of the evening.
The last Earthquakes substitution came in the 84th minute, when creative midfielder Tressor Moreno replaced defender Jason Hernandez. The visitors pushed forward with numbers in the concluding minutes of the match, but they were unable to find an equalizer.
The Earthquakes will look to return to their winning ways this Saturday when they travel to Texas to face FC Dallas.