Portland will try to extend its point streak against the Earthquakes to six matches on Sunday night when these clubs open a home-and-home set at Jeld-Wen Field.
A week after Will Johnson’s two second-half scores helped Portland rally for its second straight road draw, 2-all versus Colorado, former Earthquake Ryan Johnson netted two goals after halftime to help the Timbers (1-1-3) defeat Houston on April 6.
“It’s big,” coach Caleb Porter’s said after his first MLS victory. “It reinforces the hard work we’ve been doing and the training. It reinforces that we are a good team.”
The Timbers are one of MLS’ top teams in terms of shots per game with 14.4, but they’re hoping their defense can deliver another solid effort after Donovan Ricketts made two saves in their first shutout of 2013.
The win came at a cost, though, with defender David Horst likely to miss the next six months after fracturing his right tibia in the first half. Andrew Jean-Baptiste replaced Horst and could get the start on Sunday.
“He went in and did a great job and was the starter earlier in the year,” Porter told the Timbers’ official website. “And even though we lost Horst and it’s too bad and we feel for him, when Baptiste went in we didn’t miss a beat and we still got the clean sheet with those two guys (Mikael Silvestre) in there.”
Portland has yet to shut out San Jose in five all-time meetings, and it has surrendered six goals while posting a 1-0-4 record.
The Earthquakes (2-2-2) make their lone visit to Portland on the heels of last Saturday’s 1-all home draw against Vancouver. Surrendering the game-tying goal in the 62nd minute was a major disappointment - especially with Victor Bernardez and Alan Gordon being denied re-entry on the play after changing their cleats - but last season’s Supporters’ Shield winners are getting healthy.
Making his first start and second appearance following offseason foot surgery, Gordon set up Chris Wondolowski’s goal last Saturday, while Steven Lenhart made his season debut as a second-half substitute. He is back following offseason knee surgery.
“We’ve got to make sure that we’re managing our guys, but I think Lenny’s proved that he’s ready to go (on Sunday),” coach Frank Yallop told the Earthquakes’ official website. “Whether he starts or not, we’ll look at all our opportunities to get these guys on the pitch and go from there.”
The return of Gordon and Lenhart should give some much-needed punch to an offense that’s netted just five goals.
Wondolowski, the reigning MLS MVP, has three of those. He also has all three of the Earthquakes’ goals in the last two meetings with the Timbers - a 2-all draw in Santa Clara on Sept. 19 and in 1-all draw in Portland on Oct. 27. That score - a penalty kick past Ricketts - tied Wondolowski with Roy Lassiter for the most in a season (27) in MLS history.
These teams will meet at Buck Shaw Stadium on April 21.
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