SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The San Jose Earthquakes scored two first half goals and hung on through a furious late rally to beat the defending MLS Cup champions Portland Timbers 2-1 in front of 18,000 at sold-out Avaya Stadium on Sunday.
"It was a good game," said Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear. "I thought both teams played well and created chances on both sides of the ball. We just made a few more defensive plays at the end there."
Chris Wondolowski scored first, his second of the season, and Quincy Amarikwa scored next, on the strike of halftime, before Jack McInerney brought one back for the visitors. The victory pushed the Earthquakes to the top of the MLS Western Conference, tied with Sporting Kansas City on points with six. The Timbers dropped into a collection of team mid-table with the loss.
"Wondo does what he does, the first look he gets," said Timbers head coach Caleb Porter, adding the Amarikwa's goal was "a goal out of nothing."
Not only did the three points propel the Quakes to top of the West, the victory was San Jose's second in a row to start the new MLS season. In no other year had the club, dating back to the league's start in 1996, started a season with two straight wins.
"To come out and beat the defending champs," said Kinnear, "you know it's going to be a big effort from everyone involved. It's what we needed, and it's what we got."
The Timbers had the first chance of the afternoon denied by the woodwork when in the 6th minute, Lucas Melano rattled shot of the crossbar from the right flank. In the 12th minute, Diego Valeri went just wide of the target after a clever backheel from Fanendo Adi on a Dairon Asprilla entry pass.
The Earthquakes weathered the early Timbers attack and scored first through none other than Wondolowski in the 30th minute. After having a penalty call waved off minutes before, Wondolowski kept his head in the game and expertly redirected a cross from Anibal Godoy past Portland goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey for his second goal of the season. Rookie Kip Colvey started the sequence with a nice ball into space for Godoy.
The lead was preserved in the 39th minute after a tremendous lung-busting individual effort from Clarence Goodson to track back on a Portland counterattack and deny Adi with a sliding tackle in the area. Goodson had to race back from the center line, making up 20-something yards on the play, to disrupt the shot out for a corner kick.
Then, in first half stoppage time, a moment of brilliance from Amarikwa doubled the Earthquakes advantage. After shielding off a loose ball on the San Jose side of the center line, the forward dribbled into space and raced toward the Ultras' end of Avaya Stadium. A quick look up revealed Kwarasey off his line, and Amarikwa lobbed a shot from 35 yards out the nestled into the back of the net. It was Amarikwa's first goal of the season and first goal at Avaya since rejoining the Earthquakes last July.
The Timbers tried to claw one back at the start of the second half as Diego Chara blistered a shot from a tight angle that eluded goalkeeper David Bingham but caromed off the near post.
In the 60th minute, following a cleared corner kick by the Quakes defense, Amarikwa again found himself with the ball at the center of the park with lots of open field in front of him. Another peak up revealed Kwarasey again at the top of his area, so again Amarikwa tried to lob the 'keeper. Unfortunately, his effort from 50 yards out never had a chance and bounced well wide of the target.
Portland. looking for help on offense, subbed in Jack McInerney in the 63rd minute, but not a minute had passed before Victor Bernardez hacked the forward down near midfield, earning his first yellow card of the season.
In the 66th minute, Wondolowski nearly scored his second goal of the game. Taking a pass from Quintero after some clever holdup play from Amarikwa, the Quakes captain lashed a shot from outside the area that Kwarasey expertly turned around the post.
The Timbers continued to push ahead in search of a life-line, and in the 82nd minute Bingham had to make an acrobatic save to preserve the 2-0 score-line. A subsequent Portland free-kick trick was quickly sniffed out by the Quakes, and the Timbers came away empty on the attempt.
McInerney finally broke through for the Timbers in the 89th minute, as he stepped in front of Colvey to poke home from close range. It was the first goal allowed by the Quakes defense all season.
Through four minutes of stoppage time, Portland persisted in its attack, but again and again the defense remained resolute and the match ended 2-1 in favor of the Earthquakes.