The San Jose Earthquakes have yet to win at the Portland Timbers’ Providence Park with the club’s winless streak stretching to seven matches as Dominic Kinnear’s men fell 3-1 in Portland on Saturday night.
Although the Quakes began to find their rhythm as an attacking unit in a promising first half, they were denied an opening goal by a resolute defensive performance from Portland. In the eighteenth minute, Quincy Amarikwa clipped a lovely shot over Adam Kwarasey from twenty yards and it’s easy to image the goalkeeper’s eyes widening as he remembered Amarikwa’s fantastic chipped goal in the team’s previous meeting. This time, however, the crossbar denied Amarikwa.
Portland coach Caleb Porter shifted the momentum into Portland’s favor with the inclusion of Fanendo Adi as a half-time substitute and Jack Mcinerney capitalized on a hatful of defensive errors from the Quakes in the fifty-first minute to put Portland in the lead. Adi added another five minutes past the hour mark.
The Quakes, however, would not succumb to defeat without a fight. Chris Wondolowski buried a stoppage-time penalty and Diego Valeri ratcheted up the proceedings with a red card in the ninety-sixth minute as the Quakes mounted a late siege.
Shea Salinas, who came on as a second-half substitute, remembered the days when late comebacks were commonplace for the Quakes and thought they had the momentum to win it.
“When they go up 1-0, it’s a little frustrating because we’d been playing well,” he said. “Then they go up two and it’s really frustrating for us, but we’re a team that never really gives up and I think we showed that.
“To be honest, when Wondo scored the penalty kick I thought for sure we’re going to get a point out of the game,” he said. “I thought we were going to score that second goal and tie it up. We were just so close on so many crosses…I love the spirit and fight of the team.”
Yet the Quakes were ultimately caught out on the break in the final minute of the match and Adi buried the game with a third goal for Portland.
Kinnear made three changes to the lineup that beat the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night, rotating Simon Dawkins and Alberto Quintero back in for Shea Salinas and Matias Perez-Garcia and replacing Shaun Francis with Kip Colvey. Although Colvey has exuded confidence early in his rookie season, his mistake played a large part in Portland’s first goal and this will be the biggest test of his resilience yet.
Kinnear said, though, the changes were made only to prevent their injury list from growing once more and is not part of a wider rotation policy. “You can only rotate if your group is healthy,” he said. “Just trying to keep guys fresh…Knowing I can [rotate] and the standard doesn’t drop all that much, if it drops at all, is a comfort.”
He added: “We played some real good stuff in the first half. Great possession, great movement, some good looks at goal. Would have been nice if they’d gone in with a little bit of a lead. Think we probably deserved that, but sometimes you don’t always get what you deserve.”
It was the kind of atmosphere the Quakes have always reveled in and Portland coach Caleb Porter had his heart in his mouth in the final moments. “I couldn’t be more proud of the guys. That was a gut-check,” he said.
Said Quakes full-back Andres Imperiale: “I think we could have collected the points here. We need to give credit to the Timbers. They are a very good team. As I said, after the first goal they started to play better.
“We need to move on now. We need to think of rest for a few days after a tough week and move on and look at the next game at home against a difficult team like Sporting Kansas City…We need to win that game.”