April 13th, 2013 | MATTHEW KORFHAGE News | Posted In: Sports

Portland Timbers Preview: San Jose Earthquakes April 14

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The Portland Timbers’ home game on Sunday against the San Jose Earthquakes will likely showcase two teams headed in opposite directions. 

The Earthquakes (2-2-2, 8 points) may have a better record than the Timbers (1-1-3, 6 points). But if recent play is any indication, they’ll find a win at Jeld-Wen Field a steep uphill climb. 

Since the Timbers’ 3-3 preseason matchup against the Earthquakes on February 17—a back-and-forth shootout especially memorable to Timbers fans for Ryan Johnson’s hat trick—the Earthquakes have had a stint of lackluster performances. Despite their even-steven record, San Jose has allowed two more goals than they've scored. And despite all-star and perennial National Team substitute Chris Wondolowski, the Earthquake’s offense has been one of the most tepid in the league, with a mere five goals in six games.

While Wondo has managed to rack up three of those goals, it’s taken him 25 shots to do so, only nine of which have been on target. He’s been airing his frustrations in very public ways

The Timbers, by contrast, have scored nine goals in five games, which ranks them among the most productive offenses in the league. Their defensive woes are well-documented, but center back Mikael Silvestre’s renewed strength in recent games (and back wing Michael Harrington’s dogged consistency) has placed the Timbers in a much stronger position. 

More tellingly, the Timbers’ offense has been distributed broadly across the squad: While forward Ryan Johnson and midfielder Will Johnson account together for five of the goals, midfielders Darlington Nagbe, Rodney Wallace and Diego Valeri are all also on the boards. In addition, almost every attacking Timbers starter has logged at least one assist.

(Valeri will likely be out of the San Jose match, after an elbow to the face on April 6 against the Houston Dynamo left him with cut on the cheek and rummy as an old boxer.) 

A victory on Sunday would mark the first back-to-back wins for the Timbers since August 24, 2011. It’s by no means a done deal, however. San Jose, whatever their current problems, are a dangerous team—and maybe the only team better than this current Timbers team at Goonies-never-say-die comeback ties and victories forged in the second half. And the forecast does not call for rain, which makes it unlikely that any San Jose players will leave the field to change their shoes, as two players did during a blustery Vancouver Whitecaps game on April 7 .

Still, it’s a winnable match. And since the Timbers are playing San Jose back to back, with a road match in San Jose the following weekend, it’s also a match the Timbers need to come out on top of.
 
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