After an absolutely abysmal performance on Wednesday Night that Chris Wondolowski called “embarrassing” and “a low point” in the season, the San Jose Earthquakes knew that they had to find a way to shake it off and move on to the next one. On Saturday Night, that is exactly what they did. The Earthquakes came out and played some of their most inspired soccer of the season in knocking off Western Conference foe Portland Timbers 2-1 at Avaya Stadium.
The Earthquakes came flying out of the gate with a sense of urgency from the first minute, taking the front foot early on and were rewarded in the 16th minute when Jahmir Hyka took advantage of a bad giveaway by the Timbers back line and found a streaking Vako down the left side, who slotted one past Jeff Attinella for his fourth goal for the Earthquakes in 11 games.
“I thought for the most part we started to finish and the guys were playing for each other and scrapping for every loose ball,” said Earthquakes Coach Chris Leitch. “In addition to that, there was some really good quality on the ball and a commitment to being on the ball and moving it and being effective with it.”
“I thought San Jose played extremely well in that first half. It was no surprise that they came out flying and obviously we knew that they needed three points. And, we knew that they’re very good at home and we’ve felt that in a number of games here. So, there was no mystery what they were going to do, but we didn’t handle it well. I thought we were a little bit sloppy” said Timbers Coach Caleb Porter.
Early in the second half, the Earthquakes took advantage of a masterful tackle by Victor Bernardez taking the ball off the foot of Darron Mattocks and then getting up, controlling the ball and finding Vako, who played the ball off to Chris Wondolowksi, who found Danny Hoesen in space in the Portland back line. Hoesen dribbled around Liam Ridgewell and Roy Miller and slotted home the Earthquakes second goal of the night. After finding some minutes on the wing, Leitch adjusted the formation and put Hoesen in a much more familiar striker position.
“It’s more familiar for me. I like to find my own spaces and make my own runs. If you play on the side, it’s not as much space as a striker so I felt good today. I was happy to play there and hopefully I showed enough to keep playing there.” said Hoesen.
The Timbers stepped up the pressure late in the match and were rewarded with a Sebastian Blanco goal in the 83rd minute that ultimately proved to be too little too late to take any points from the match.
The Earthquakes were able to keep Diego Valeri off the scoresheet, snapping his consecutive games with a goal streak at nine.
A win would have clinched a playoff berth for Portland, who remain second in the West, level on points with Sporting Kansas City and Seattle, but with SKC holding two games in hand on both Cascadian teams.
Unfortunately for San Jose, the win left them sitting below the red line, level on points and and identical record with Real Salt Lake, but 16 goals behind RSL on goal differential. FC Dallas is also level with San Jose and RSL on points, but the Earthquakes and RSL hold a tiebreaker on them due to having more wins on the season.
San Jose Earthquakes