MatchDay: Timbers vs. Earthquakes

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

Published:

 

Earthquakes at Timbers

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. today at Jeld-Wen Field.

TV/radio: NBC Sports Network (Comcast Channel 32/732); AM 750.

Tickets: 503-553-5555, portlandtimbers.com.

Where they stand: Portland has one win, three ties and a loss through four games and is seventh in the West; San Jose (2-2-2) is fourth in the West.

Head to head: In a rare twist, San Jose is seeking its first MLS win over the Timbers. The five previous meetings have produced four draws and a 2-1 win for the Timbers last July 3 in what turned out to be John Spencer’s last home match as Timbers’ coach. Today’s game is the first of a rare back-to-back series between the Timbers and Earthquakes, who also tangle on April 21 in Buck Shaw Stadium. The teams’ third meeting is July 27 in Santa Clara, Calif.

Timbers’ tale: Portland is coming off its first win of this season as a dominating second half produced a 2-0 home victory over Houston. Ryan Johnson scored both goals, and the Timbers put up some other impressive numbers: 560 passes to only 345 for Houston, with a pass completion rate of 83 percent. Those numbers indicate the Timbers played the kind of possession game that coach Caleb Porter wants to see.

The bad news, of course, was the injuries to David Horst and Diego Valeri. Horst is done for the season. Valeri could play Sunday if he passes league-mandated tests for concussion symptoms, but Porter on Saturday said the Timbers will be cautious with Valeri.

Also uncertain is who will man the middle of the Timbers defense. Both Mikael Silvestre and Andrew Jean-Baptiste were limited in practice this week. Futty Danso and rookie Dylan Tucker-Gangnes are the only other available central defenders.

Quakes story: Last season’s Supporter’s Shield winners with the best regular-season record, the Earthquakes are off to a modest 2-2-2 start. Chris Wondolowski, who last season tied the MLS season mark with 27 goals, has notched three of San Jose’s six goals through six games this season. But he has had enough chances for more. The recent return from injuries of Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart, who share time alongside Wondolowski at striker, might bolster the San Jose attack.

Caleb Porter on San Jose: “They’re tough to play against because they get balls in the box. They can be very direct at times, dig out second balls, get it wide, serve it in. You have to be sharp for 90 straight minutes. They will punish you in moments. If you make a mistake, they’ll punish you.”