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Timbers draw with Earthquakes, move into lead for final playoff spot



Winning was what they wanted. Losing was what they absolutely could not do. But a draw was what happened for the Portland Timbers Wednesday night at Jeld-Wen Field, a difficult result to take since Portland let its lead in the game slip away.

The Timbers drew with the San Jose Earthquakes 1-1 and moved into the 10th and final playoff spot in MLS with five matches left to play in the regular season. Portland's 37 points (11-12-6) put it ahead of the New York Red Bulls by a point at the end of play Wednesday night, and the two teams meet Saturday night at Red Bull Arena for a pivotal match.

The Timbers led 1-0 for almost 70 minutes, a goal by Kenny Cooper in the ninth minute standing up for that long. Khary Stephenson got the equalizer for the Quakes, who needed a win worse than the Timbers. Stephenson took a pass at the top of the 18-yard box, turned and fired a low shot that beat Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins in the 70th minute.

San Jose (6-11-12) is on the outside looking in for the playoffs and needs three points virtually every time the Earthquakes take the pitch. Plus some losses from teams above them in the standings to figure in the playoff picture with any purpose.

In truth, the Earthquakes were the more attacking team for much of the night, the Timbers failing to connect on a number of passes to the wings that ended up going out of bounds.

Thirty-nine points would have certainly felt much better going out East for the Timbers, but they did keep a streak of unbeaten matches going at five. The Timbers, playing so well at home of late, took the lead when Darlington Nagbe got behind Earthquakes defender Bobby Burling and made a run from the side toward the box. Nagbe fed Cooper inside, who put the ball in the back of the net for his second goal in as many games.

Simon Dawkins was a challenge for the TImbers defenders, making runs and getting free near the goal. His shot in the 18th minute went through defender Eric Brunner's legs and was saved by Perkins. 

San Jose's chances were closer the those of the Timbers, but in the 42nd minute, Cooper had his chip tipped over the goal by goalkeeper Jon Busch. 

Busch came up big in the 63rd minute, stopping a Brunner header off a pass from Mike Chabala. The Quakes' goal came suddenly, Stephenson taking a pass from Rafael Baca and appearing to pause momentarily with the ball before taking the shot. Perkins could have done better with it, it seemed, but the ball went past him.

So ended a 341-minute shutout streak for the Timbers.

Perkins actually prevented what could have easily been a Timbers' loss. He saved a header from Chris Wondolowski in the 86th minute that preserved the draw.

The Timbers have just one more regular-season match at Jeld-Wen Field, and four more on the road. 


  1. Portland had some great chances off the counter but you are right that San Jose dominated the game. That performance was not worth the one point but I’ll take it anyways.

  2. It’s pretty difficult to publish realistic playoff standings given the differences in games played and remaining schedules.

    One thing is certain. Mediocre teams will make it into the playoffs.

    I hope my team makes it!

  3. Quite honestly, Portland deserved a draw and nothing more. I was rooting for them, and it’s great to see Cooper score again, but the Smurfs had possession most of the game. On the bright side, NYRB are atrocious and are unlikely to pose a threat to Portland’s play-off chances now.


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