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San Jose come back falls short in Portland, Earthquakes lose 2-1 to Timbers

(Portland) Throughout the first half of the 2012 campaign, the San Jose Earthquakes earned a reputation for stunning comebacks as they compiled their best start in club history. But the second half of their 2012 season didn’t start as brightly, as the San Jose rally fell short in Portland Tuesday night, and the ‘Quakes dropped a 2-1 game to the Timbers.

Portland surged ahead through goals by Danny Mwanga and Jack Jewsbury before Alan Gordon could get pull one back for San Jose. The loss snapped the Earthquakes’ three game winning streak in MLS play.

David Bingham got the start in goal for San Jose, as Jon Busch sat out with an eye injury, and his inexperience showed in Portland’s second goal. From near the center circle, Franck Songo’o sent in a long free kick into the San Jose penalty area, and as Bingham went to catch it, he collided with Mamadou “Futty” Danso. The ball was knocked free, and Jack Jewsbury won the race to the loose ball, sliding to force it into the net from a yard out. San Jose appealed for a foul to be called, but the goal stood.

“I don’t know what happened exactly,” Bingham said. “I was hit by someone, I don’t know if it was (Danso) or our guy. I take full responsibility for that; it’s not anybody else’s fault but mine.”

“I wouldn’t call it a mistake,” San Jose coach Frank Yallop said, “but David has got to make sure that there’s no decision for the referee to make. Either come out and punch (it away) or catch it. We don’t blame anybody, we win or lose together. But he’s got to learn from that and hopefully learn the lesson to not put it in the referee’s hands, to make the play himself.”

Portland had the better chances in the opening half, and were a bit unlucky to only have a 1-0 lead at intermission. 15 minutes in, a long diagonal pass was deflected by Victor Bernardez, and fell to Eric Alexander with plenty of space on the left side of the penalty area. Alexander cut inside to get around Steven Beitashour before slamming a 15 yarder off the left upright.

Portland broke through at the half hour mark, when Franck Songo’o stole the ball deep in his own end. Songo’o played a 1-2 with Eric Alexander to set up a 75 yard run down the right wing, before his centering pass found Danny Mwanga eight yards from goal. Mwanga hit it first time, beating David Bingham cleanly inside the right post.

The Timbers almost doubled their lead three minutes later. A Songo’o corner kick found David Horst for a lunging header from six yards out, but Rafael Baca was guarding the right upright and was able to clear the shot off the line.

San Jose spend the first half nipping at the edges of the Portland defense, but were unable to get many clear looks at goal. The Earthquakes almost solved the Portland defense in the 29th minute, when Justin Morrow slipped a pass to Baca charging into the box. Baca’s first touch wasn’t a good one, and Troy Perkins was able to block his shot from ten yards out. The rebound deflected just behind Alan Gordon, and though Shea Salinas was able to get to it at the far post, his shot was easily blocked by Steven Smith.

San Jose’s offensive struggles continued in the second half. In the 59th minute, Marvin Chavez replaced Rafael Baca on the wing to try and change the story, but it was Portland scoring their second goal seconds later through Jack Jewsbury.

“The second goal kind of killed us off a little bit,” Yallop said. “But we got a goal back and had a few anxious moments in their box that we could have maybe scored on. You can’t keep coming back from a couple goals down. So, tonight wasn’t our night.”

Two minutes after Portland went up 2-0, San Jose brought on Steven Lenhart for Khari Stephenson, a move that almost paid instant dividends. In the 63rd minute Alan Gordon held the ball in front of goal and teed up an on rushing Lenhart for an open shot from 8 yards, but Lenhart’s effort missed wide right.

The Earthquakes didn’t quit, and pulled one back in the 74th minute, when a Justin Morrow cross was cleared only as far as the top of the penalty area. Marvin Chavez brought the ball down and fired a shot on goal, and Alan Gordon deflected it through the crowd in front of the net to pull one back for San Jose. For Gordon, it was his sixth goal of the year, and set a new personal best for goals in a season.

Tressor Moreno came on for Jason Hernandez in the 84th minute, pushing Sam Cronin back to the defensive line as San Jose searched for an equalizer. But even with six minutes of stoppage time added, the closest the Earthquakes could come to scoring was an Alan Gordon header that missed poorly, wide right.

“I think Portland pressed us quite well,” Yallop said. “We gave a lot of balls away (in the first half), which is not like us, and we didn’t create a ton of good chances, which is not like us either. What I do like is that we finished the game well. If there was going to be one team to score at the end it would have been us, but we couldn’t quite do it.”

The Earthquakes have now played 18 games, the same as DC and Salt Lake, and remain three points ahead in the chase for the Supporters Shield, and four points up in the Western Conference. Their road trip continues to Texas, where they’ll play FC Dallas Saturday night.

(Photo: Joe Nuxoll, centerlinesoccer.com)

San Jose Earthquakes (11-4-3) at Portland Timbers (5-7-4)
July 3, 2012 — JELD-WEN Field
Attendance: 20,438

Scoring Summary: POR — Danny Mwanga (Franck Songo’o) 29; POR — Jack Jewsbury (unassisted) 59; SJ — Alan Gordon (unassisted) 74.

Misconduct Summary: SJ — Chris Wondolowski (caution) 77; POR — Sal Zizzo (caution) 79.

San Jose Earthquakes — David Bingham, Steven Beitashour, Victor Bernardez, Jason Hernandez (Tressor Moreno 84), Justin Morrow, Shea Salinas, Sam Cronin, Khari Stephenson (Steven Lenhart 62), Rafael Baca (Marvin Chavez 59), Chris Wondolowski, Alan Gordon.

Statistics: Total Shots: 17; Shots on Goal: 3; Saves: 3; Fouls: 16; Offside: 2; Corner Kicks: 4.

Portland Timbers Troy Perkins, Jack Jewsbury, Mamadou Danso, David Horst, Steven Smith (Mike Chabala 63), Franck Songo’o (Sal Zizzo 74), Lovel Palmer (Freddie Braun 86), Darlington Nagbe, Eric Alexander, Danny Mwanga, Kris Boyd.

Statistics: Total Shots: 19; Shots on Goal: 5; Saves: 2; Fouls: 10; Offside: 1; Corner Kicks: 1.