The Portland Timbers (2-3-0, 6 pts, 9th in West) defeated the San Jose Earthquakes (3-3-0, 9 pts, 4th in West) 2-0 at PayPal Park in San Jose, CA on Saturday, May 15th, 2021.
Eryk Williamson assisted both goals while squaring off with San Jose’s Jackson Yueill in midfield. Yueill was selected over Williamson for the U.S. Men’s National Team U23 squad that missed out on the Olympics a few months ago.
Portland’s newest goalkeeper, Logan Ketterer, made a massive penalty save to keep Portland’s lead intact, and the Timbers would go on to win the match 2-0.
With nine players on the injured reserve list, Timbers Head Coach Giovanni Savarese elected to “park the bus” and look for counterattacking opportunities in this match. You can be the judge how that worked out.
The opening few minutes started with a jolt. San Jose maintained most of the possession—as they would for the rest of the match—but a high press by Portland forced a turnover, which Eryk Williamson expertly weaved into a chance. As he popped the ball through to Yimmi Chará, Williamson got decked at the edge of the box. Referee Rosendo Mendoza called an advantage, but it was not needed.
Yimmi Chará’s first goal in 2021 MLS play took the pressure off Portland mentally, but not physically. San Jose would work the ball around Portland’s half relentlessly, as the Timbers relied on counterattacks and the occasional high pressure to shake the Quakes off the ball.
One such counter came in the 30′, as Portland pushed for a corner that nearly led to a headed Dario Župarić goal—his shot kissed off the post. On the other end, a nervous moment for Logan Ketterer reminded the Timbers that the match was still very close.
The Timbers leapt out to a quick start again in the second half, with Andy Polo nearly assisting Felipe Mora merely seconds into the half. His shot missed wide right, but it was a good sign for the Timbers.
That chance would be one of many for Portland in the first 15 minutes of the second period. Mora himself had a chance from his head (51′, blocked by defender) and his feet (55′, saved incredibly by J.T. Marcinkowski) before Bill Tuiloma had a header go wide.
While the Quakes started breaking Portland’s front line, the chances continued. Pablo Bonilla had maybe the best of the second half, as his beautiful one-two with Mora gave him a decent look at goal in the six yard box. Unfortunately, his left-footed shot was over the bar.
Just when it seemed like Portland were taking control, disaster struck. Claudio Bravo used his arm to block a Carlos Fierro cross, giving the ageless Chris Wondolowski a chance to level the tie from the spot—but Logan Ketterer rose to the occasion.
Ketterer, who was brought on as an emergency loanee signing after three Timbers ‘keepers went down with injuries, had an amazing night between the sticks for Portland. In all, he made four saves and one punch—none more important than the penalty stop.
The missed penalty gave Portland another jolt of confidence. The Timbers kept fighting as San Jose turned up the heat.
Jeremy Ebobisse’s night ended somewhat conspicuously as he limped off the field after grabbing his calf. Dairon Asprilla had already been slated to come on, and Jebo limped around to the bench in the 68′.
With Portland needing an insurance goal, Williamson came up big once again. After a bit of offensive pressure from Portland, Williamson whipped in a perfect ball to Marvin Loría, whose header over Marcinkowski gave the Timbers a 2-0 lead with just over 15 minutes to play.
Andy Polo became an unsung hero from tonight, with a match-high four chances created despite having zero assists to his name. He would be replaced by Renzo Zambrano in the 72′.
Diego Valeri, Jose Van Rankin, and Zac McGraw would make appearances in the 82′, replacing Mora, Loría, and Bonilla, respectively.
San Jose chased a goal with everything they had, but Portland’s defense held firm. The best chance came and went as Benjamin Kikanovic watched his header spin wide of the post in the 93′, but the match was already out of reach. A huge win for Portland in such unlikely fashion will serve the Timbers well as the regular season heats up.
Timbers fans (including myself) might not have had much faith in the team entering Saturday night, but Gio did. This match threw massive shades of the 2018 playoff run in Savarese’s inaugural season—a tough road win in which, on paper, the Timbers seemed outmatched, turned into a glorious victory as Portland put away enough chances.
A massive win for the Timbers during an exceptionally-tough period, and counterattacking the way God (I mean, Gio) intended.
Follow @doublepostpod for total coverage of tonight’s match (and every match!), including our postgame reaction podcast later this evening.
As always, RCTID!