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Will Johnson’s free kick leads Timbers to second straight victory

TimbersCelebrate (PortlandTimbers)


PORTLAND, Ore.–¬†Early Sunday afternoon, Caleb Porter sent Will Johnson a text message telling him to score a free kick goal during the Timbers match against the San Jose Earthquakes. Being the captain that he is, Johnson decided to do exactly as his coach had asked.

Johnson’s second-half free-kick was the difference as the Timbers pulled out a 1-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes at Jeld-Wen Field Sunday night. About 20 yards from goal, Johnson lifted his kick over the wall and past a diving Jon Busch to give the Timbers the win.

“It was kind of funny. I texted him today and had a weird feeling he was going to hit a free kick,” Porter said.¬†“I said, ‘why don’t you smack a free-kick goal today?’ So when he hit it, I couldn’t believe it.”

“He sent me a text this afternoon just saying a free kick goal would be nice,” Will Johnson said. “It was a special play, but there were lots of special plays tonight.”

There might have been many special plays for the Timbers, but there were hardly any goal scoring opportunities for either team for the majority of the match. Other than the free kick, the most memorable moment of the match came immediately after Johnson fouled Alan Gordon during the first few minutes of the second half.

As the two players got to their feet, Gordon appeared to unfurl a gay slur at Johnson. Johnson then held up three fingers at Gordon, seemingly to indicate the three-game suspension that the MLS is known to hand down to players who use slurs.

A quarter hour later, Gordon received his second yellow after elbowing Mikael Silvestre in the head. Silvestre had to be restrained from going after Gordon after the play.

The elbow was a microcosm of a game that saw San Jose try to out-physical Portland. The Earthquakes were constantly going toe-to-toe with Timber players, however, it had little effect on the Timbers.

“I told the guys, we need to out-fight [SJ] and we need to out-football them, too,” Porter said. “I thought we matched their intensity.”

The Timbers continued to have gaudy passing numbers with 529 to San Jose’s 289 and maintained 64.3% for the match. San Jose seemed to struggle to keep up with the pace once Gordon was sent off.

“I thought we wore them down and were very patient and methodical,” Porter said. “We had a lot of the ball and all you need is one to win.”

San Jose received little production from its star trio of Gordon, Chris Wondolowski, and Steven Lenhart, who were starting together for just the second time in MLS. The three combined for just three shots and never really threatened the Timbers goal.

Wondolowski was rarely around the ball for the first 70 minutes of the match while playing as a right-sided midfielder. It wasn’t until after Gordon’s sending off that he took his place at the top of the Earthquakes formation.

While San Jose started its three prolific attacking players for the first time this season, the Timbers were forced to start Futty Danso at center back. After injuries to David Horst and Andrew Jean-Baptiste, the Gambian International made his first appearance of the season.

Despite Danso having never started next to Silvestre, San Jose rarely threatened the Timbers goal. In fact, it was the fourth straight match that Portland used a different center back combination.

“Futty and Mikael were fantastic,” Will Johnson said. “The way they play with Lenhart and Gordon, when they were in the game, is just balls coming up time-and-time again and they’re fighting and those guys matched it every step of the way.”

The shutout was the second straight for the club and moves the Timbers (2-1-3, 9 points) up to third in Western Conference and one point ahead of San Jose (2-3-2, 8 points). The clubs will meet again next Sunday at Buck Shaw Stadium.

Here are the match highlights:


  1. Lots of blame to go around for the Quakes in this one. Alan Gordon has somehow managed to lose five points for the team in two games – he may be back physically, but his brain seems to still be on vacation. Now he’s out next game and possibly several more. Yallop put two rusty target forwards into the starting lineup, and all it accomplished was to move Wondo far away from the goal where he is most effective. The midfield couldn’t keep possession – with the exception of Cronin, they were all guilty of terrible giveaways. Justin Morrow has picked up some nifty moves to beat a defender, but needs to get a lot better on crosses. The one bright spot was the central defense which looked pretty solid.

  2. Wow, Portland is a prime example of what none soccer fans complain about with the acting and bitching. Play the game and stop rolling and the ground and complain when there is contact.

    • Portland is a prime example of what all MLS teams should strive for: possession and skill oriented play. Thuggery and hacking is best left for another sport.

    • Wait, are you serious? I had to re read because any team that has Cronin, Bernardez and floppy mcflopperton Lenhart on their team has absolutely zero business complaining about anything. The obvious straight red that was missed on the studs up upending of Chara was absurd and the ref basically had to be goaded into giving that second yellow to Gordon.

      SJ fans, what’s your deal? I mean seriously, you guys need to settle down and have fun, this isn’t hooliganism here. i know it must be rough in the mean streets of Silicon Valley, but manifest that anger in some more productive ways.

      • LOL easy lower Seattle how about you chumps win something before you starting talking about being an example in the MLS. It’s funny how you call SJ thugs because we play aggressive last time I checked this was a contact sport not a sport for actors. I believe it was Chara in the 41 that arched his back in agony while falling to be more dramatic as he laid on the field until the game was stopped. What happened you ask less then one minute later he got some magic spray on his ankle and was right back on the pitch no limp because he was acting. Just like your frenchy, so you got hit in the lip on a 50/50 it happens stop being so over dramatic like it was on purpose. we’ve all seen the reply and there was no intention from gordon other then balance. Was it a penalty yes a card not at all but that didn’t stop your whinny player from getting his panties in a bunch and storming over to the ref to B!tch. Will see you chumps next week.

      • Thank you for demonstrating how ignorant San Jose fans can be. I believe your team has the player who most exemplifies everything you falsely rally against.

  3. Unbelievably dumb all around game by Gordon last night. SJ is a boring, thuggy team to watch, huh? They’re the Stoke of MLS.

    • Gordon was poor from the whistle. Really struggled controlling the ball. SJ has the ability to move the ball well in midfield, but Portland shutdown SJ’s midfield allowing them to control the tempo. Pure frustration from the Quakes, Portland wouldn’t let them in the game.

  4. So, Alan Gordon had a good day no?

    Portland scored a decent result versus a team that seemed to wna to muck things up a bit.

    Despite the highlights, San Jose could looked to pull something out at home…

    Credit to Portland’s team defense on this one.

    Porter seems to have a plan?

  5. From a purely soccer appreciation prospective, it is nice to see Timbers to get a win. SJ players looked like a bunch of hacks on these highlights.

    • I was there… SJ put on a pathetic performance for any fan of soccer. Felt like I was watching a high school football team play the timbers. They got the timbers to play there game a bit, but porter cooled their heels a bit at half… Soccer gods delivered the free kick

  6. Quakes needed to take much better care of the ball. Gordo really struggled controlling the ball, especially in the first half. Portland’s ability to quickly close space is impressive. Their mids are very quick and disciplined defensively, winning many balls outright or forcing bad passes from the Quakes. Their movement off the ball and timed combination passing entering the attacking third is stellar. They’re already a pain in the a$$ to play against and if they ever get a couple quality forwards, they’ll be a legit threat to take it.

  7. So I just got back from the game, but what is with san jose fans, are you trying to manifest some sort of rivalry with us? I mean good on you for coming up to watch a game, but your banners about Paulson are vague and ill conceived at best.


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