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Thursday, July 15, 2004

10 Man Timbers Outclassed

A disappointing night at PGE Park as the Portland Timbers were picked off by the San Jose Earthquakes 0-3.

A large crowd of 10,622 got treated to an almost full-strength Earthquakes team, but sadly only saw glimpses of the Timbers potential after the game, as a contest, was killed early on when Gavin Wilkinson was sent off.

Prior to that the game had started quietly, but on 17' after a nice 1-2 by the San Jose forwards Landon Donovan and Brian Ching, Wilkinson was giving a red card after pulling Ching back in the box. Ekeland converted the penalty, the Earthquakes were 1-nil up and the Timbers never recovered.

Playing against a side that collectively and in most cases individually were a class above, the Timbers suffered badly being a man down and for long stretches of the game the Earthquakes could move the ball around PGE Park freely, waiting for a chance to attack.

Credit to the Timbers though, they didn't completely fold after the penalty and held on till the second half before conceeding another goal.

With Brian Winters dropping back into the back line, the Timbers had to soak up a lot of pressure with Josh Saunders making 2 or 3 key saves from the feet of his former teammates.

On 25' Donovan's layoff to Hart, the Timbers couldn't clear his cross and Ching shot over. A minute later Donovan's dipping shot was just over Josh Saunders' crossbar.

27' and Winters lost out to Donovan, but Saunders made the save, one of many facing his old San Jose teammates on this night.

Being fair, Winters did do an OK job against Ching, but as we'd seen before playing for Seattle he's adept at coming deep, picking up the ball and turning. Tonight was no different.

At the other end a big factor in the Timbers lack of punch was the fact that Ryan Cochrane and Craig Waibel (both extremely solid at the back) were getting the better of Alan Gordon in the air. The long balls forward looking for a Gordon nod down were ineffectual tonight.

Byron Alvarez shot over from 25yds on 34' and Alex Bengard found some space on the right on 37', but his cross sailed over everyone in the San Jose box.

Particularly effective for San Jose was Mullan wide on the right. Cutting inside Sagare with regularity to set up Ching and Donovan whose teamwork at the top of the box was slick.

On 41' Waibel's foul on Gordon set up a free kick 35 yds out. Gregor's quick kick was to Bengard, but his shot was just over.

Right on half-time Gordon did get a head on a long Saunders clearance, almost getting Alvaraz in, but Dunivant was there to mop-up.

Then at the other end Saunders had to save again from the incoming Donovan after Mulrooney's through-ball.

Half-Time: 0-1 San Jose

De Rosario replaced Donovan in the second half, the US international stopping off for photos and autographs on his way past the beer garden and the Timbers seemed to start off with more confidence.

On 53' a great move involving Hugo Alcaraz, Gregor, Bengard, Gordon, Sagare, back to Bengard who let the ball roll across the top of the San Jose box, but couldn't find the gap for the shot.

The glimpse of Timbers attack was almost immediately beaten down when some poor defending at the back (playing the ball across the back-line under pressure) caused Shaun Saunders to lose out to Ching. He played the ball to Ramiro Corrales and he rifled the ball past Saunders to make it 0-2 on 55'.

It seemed like the floodgates might open as San Jose attacked again, a nice move ending with Mullan's one touch setting up Ching, luckily the shot blocked.

Credit to Bobby Howe now as he must have realized that the Timbers had to make changes. 1-nil down and there was still a chance of getting back in the game (even though one could argue that immediately after the red card Winters should have been replaced with someone more used to playing at the back. 2 down in a Cup game and things needed mixing up.

New Timber Scot Thompson stripped off and waited patiently as the Earthquakes strung together what seemed like 30+ passes with no Timber touching the ball, Winters did manage to cut off De Rosario as he bared down on goal, but it was the last action for him as finally Thompson replaced him on 60'.

So...to the positives of the night. First the crowd. Lovely to see PGE Park filled, hopefully some first-timers come back. Second, Scot Thompson. The defender from the LA Galaxy stood out. Calm and composed at the back, ready to come forward on the overlap. He's going to be a joy to watch for the rest of this year.

If it was me I would have added the speed of Edwin Miranda at this point too, but then I'm not the boss!

61' and another San Jose move and chance for a goal. Corrales to De Rosario, back to Corrales to Ching, but his soft shot trickled straight to Saunders from about 8 yds out.

Thompson was overlapping Alcaraz on the right and on 67' the best Timbers move of the night got the home crowd jumping. A sweeping move ending with Conway saving Sagare's shot for the corner. From the kick, Bengard's shot was wide right, but a sign that the Timbers could make a game of it late on.

2 more corners for the Timbers in quick succession and more changes. Dombrowski on for Cochrane, Walker on for Corrales.

Another Timbers corner on 73' and the Timbers were finally playing.

Miranda replaced Bengard on 75' and on 79' another good Timbers move as Gordon's cross was played off to Alvarez by Alcarez-Cuellar, but his shot was to keeper Conway.

Then on 80' the Earthquakes finished the game. Mulrooney to Mullan, who again cut inside Sagare to cross from the right perfectly for De Rosario to head past Saunders. 0-3 San Jose.

Brown replaced Ching, Antoniuk replaced a limping Gordon and the game faded away leaving the Timbers out of the US Open Cup and looking forward to their NorthWest road trip this coming weekend.

[press]
O-US Open and (Shut)Out
MLSNet.com-Quakes Move Past 10-Man Timbers
WWeek.com-Timbers Outnumbered, Outgunned

posted by the timberlog at 9:38 AM



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