Timbers MatchDay: at Earthquakes

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter



Timbers at San Jose

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

TV/radio: Root Sports (cable Ch. 34) / AM 750.

Where they stand: Portland (8 wins, 2 losses, 10 ties) is second in the Western Conference with 34 points from 20 matches. San Jose (6-9-6) is eighth in the West with 24 points from 21 matches.

Head to head: This is the last of three meetings this season. The teams played twice within a week earlier this season with the Timbers winning 1-0 at home and tying 1-1 at San Jose. Portland has never lost to San Jose in MLS play.

Timbers' tale: Portland enters the weekend three points behind first-place Real Salt Lake, but the Timbers have played one fewer game. RSL visits New York on Saturday. The Timbers figure to be without workhorse midfielder Diego Chara, who left last weekend's scoreless draw at Philadelphia at halftime and is suffering from turf toe on his left foot. Ben Zemanski figures to start alongside Will Johnson in the holding midfield position. The Timbers have two wins, one loss and eight draws away from home. The scoreless draw at Philadelphia last weekend was the first time this season that the Union has not scored in a home match.

San Jose story: The Earthquakes, who posted the best record in MLS last season, are desperate for wins if they want to make the playoffs. But San Jose will be without several key players. Forward Chris Wondolowski and defender Clarence Goodson are with the U.S. national team that plays Panama on Sunday for the Gold Cup championship. Goodson signed with the Quakes in June and is yet to play for San Jose. Forward Alan Gordon is also with the national team, but is suspended (card accumulation) for the Timbers' visit. The Quakes do have rookie Adam Jahn who has four goals including the late equalizer the last time Portland faced San Jose. Steven Lenhart has only one goal this season, but is a proven agitator up front. The Quakes assist leader is midfielder Shea Salinas. San Jose has changed head coaches since the Timbers last saw the Quakes. Mark Watson is 3-3 as interim coach since Frank Yallop stepped aside.

Familiar challenge: San Jose presents similar challenges to the Philadelphia squad the Timbers played last week. Though they have scored only three goals off set pieces this season, the Quakes like to put balls into the 18-yard box, which puts pressure on opposing central defenders.

"I was really, really happy with our guys, defensively the way they performed in the box" dealing with balls in the air against Philadelphia, Timbers coach Caleb Porter said. "Now we have to carry that same mind set into San Jose. Same deal, they want to dump balls in the box and make it a mosh pit."