It won't take long for the San Jose Earthquakes to rate just how well they performed in their season opening 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids. This Sunday's opponent, the Portland Timbers, will provide a much more formidable test for a team that had to grind out the game last weekend.
A Chris Wondolowski goal and some heroic defense paced the Quakes past last season's last place team the Rapids. Now, San Jose faces the defending MLS Cup champions in the Timbers, vanquishers of the Columbus Crew -- the same team they beat to earn the title last December -- in week one of the new MLS season.
Talk about an upgrade in opponent!
The Earthquakes limped into the season opener, carrying all healthy bodies on their 18-man game-day roster, and their three substitutes -- Tommy Thompson, Kip Colvey, and Matheus Silva -- were all 21 year old or younger. This Sunday against Portland, head coach Dominic Kinnear is hoping to have midfielder Fatai Alashe back in the line-up after an injury wiped out his preseason.
Last Sunday, Alashe intimated did that he would be ready to play this week. He trained with the team in preparation for the Timbers, but Kinnear did not state unequivocally whether he would be available for the match.
The Earthquakes will have their hands full against Portland, especially its attacking trio of forward Fanendo Adi. Deigo Valeri, and Darlington Ngabe. In the Timbers 2-1 season opening win over the Crew, both Adi and Valeri found the back of the net.
Neither team in the series had won at the other's home stadium until last season when the Timbers beat the Quakes at Avaya Stadium in October. The two clubs face off in the same venue this Sunday, both trying to extend their season opening winning streaks.
Earthquakes midfielder Matias Perez Garcia, who was suspended for the match against the Rapids due to a red card issued to close out the 2015 season, is available to play against Portland. He may not get the start, not with the emergence of winger Alberto Quintero the week prior. The Panamanian international notched the assist on Wondolowski's game winning goal.
Kick off for Sunday's match is at 4:00 p.m. local time, and the game will be nationally televised on Fox Sports 1. Radio listeners can catch the proceedings from Avaya Stadium on 1590 KLIV, and online viewers can watch at Fox Sports To-Go and MLS Live.