PORTLAND — Another first-rate second half and another shutout produced a second consecutive win for the Portland Timbers on Sunday at sold-out Jeld-Wen Field.
Will Johnson’s precise free kick from 25 yards out produced the goal, and the Timbers beat the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0.
The performance and result were similar to last week’s win over Houston. Portland played a patient first half before putting together a more attack-oriented second half. The result was a second consecutive shutout, a satisfying development for a team that had to play from behind in each of its first four matches this season.
Sunday’s win marked only the third time the Timbers have won consecutive Major League Soccer games, and it elevated Portland (2-1-2, nine points) to third place in the Western Conference standings.
The goal came in the 79th minute. From 25 yards straight out, Johnson lifted his free kick over the defensive wall and into the wide-open left side of the net.
Portland probably caught a break on the foul that led to the free kick, which was called after Kalif Alhassan broke forward and appeared to lose his balance.
But the Timbers — pressing for a goal from the opening minute of the second half — earned the victory. Portland took seven corner kicks after halftime. With Rodney Wallace and Alhassan working the left flank, the Timbers had five crosses into the box that narrowly missed connecting with a forward-moving teammate.
San Jose (2-3-2, eight points) played the final 20-plus minutes with 10 men after forward Alan Gordon — who had received a yellow card in the first half — was sent off after catching Timbers defender Mikael Silvestre in the mouth with his elbow. Silvestre was bloodied on the play but stayed in the game.
Portland and San Jose see each other again next Sunday, playing at 8 p.m. at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. That match might have a little extra intensity after the Earthquakes were called for 12 fouls and received three cards on Sunday.
Portland dominated possession for long stretches of the game, partly because San Jose seemed content to crowd the midfield and wait for counter-attack chances. But the flow of the game changed in the last 10 minutes when the Earthquakes had to push forward to seek a tying goal.
And that momentum shift almost resulted in a tying goal for the visitors from a throw-in in stoppage time, but Chris Wondolowski’s header went right at Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
That bit of fortune was deserved on a night that Portland center defenders Futty Danso and Silvestre more than held their own against a Quakes’ side that started both Gordon and Steven Lenhart up top. Danso started in place of Andrew Jean-Baptiste, who missed the game with an injury. It was the first time all season that Danso even dressed for a match, but the veteran played big.
Timbers coach Caleb Porter said Danso’s size and athletic ability was a good fit against an opponent that serve balls forward all game long.
“He’s physical, athletic, strong, good in the air,” Porter said. “He played with a lot of maturity and confidence.”
The same could describe the soccer these Timbers have begun to play. In a rugged and somewhat ragged first half, Portland dominated possession but didn’t over-extend the attack.
Portland might have deserved a penalty kick in the 30th minute when a nice combination with Jack Jewsbury sent Darlington Nagbe into the right side of the penalty area. San Jose’s Rafael Baca appeared to go through Nagbe’s ankles to play ball, but all thee Timbers were granted was a corner kick, the only one of a first half that saw only four attempts at goal from each team.
The second half was a different story, as the Timbers attacked with dangerous crosses, earned seven corner kicks, and with a little better fortune could have registered several goals.
TIMBERS 1, EARTHQUAKES 0
San Jose 0 0–0
Portland 0 1–1
Second half–1, Portland, Johnson 3, 78th minute.
Goalies–San Jose, Jon Busch; Portland, Donovan Ricketts.
Yellow Cards–Gordon, San Jose, 41st; Chara, Portland, 44th; Bernardez, San Jose, 50th.
Red Cards–Gordon, San Jose, 69th.
Referee–Hilario Grajeda. Assistant Referees–Paul Scott. Bill Dittmar. 4th Official–Allen Chapman.
San Jose–Jon Busch, Ramiro Corrales (Mike Fucito, 84th), Ty Harden (Nana Attakora, 64th), Justin Morrow, Victor Bernardez, Dan Gargan, Rafael Baca, Sam Cronin, Steven Lenhart (Cordell Cato, 63rd), Chris Wondolowski, Alan Gordon.
Portland–Donovan Ricketts, Michael Harrington, Mamadou Danso, Rodney Wallace, Mikael Silvestre, Darlington Nagbe (Ben Zemanski, 82nd), Kalif Alhassan (Frederic Piquionne, 85th), Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara, Will Johnson, Ryan Johnson (Ryan Miller, 90th+).