SAN JOSE, Calif. -- A complete team effort, and a pair of fantastic goals, gave the San Jose Earthquakes an important 2-1 victory over the defending MLS Cup champion Portland Timbers at sold-out Avaya Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
First Chris Wondolowski with the finesse, then Quincy Amarikwa with the mustard, paced the Quakes to the win. A complete effort from the defense was key in securing the three points, especially as the Timbers threw everything they had at San Jose late in the game.
What stood out from the effort? Many things to be sure, but these were the three most interesting thoughts on a sometimes rainy afternoon at Avaya.
Quincy Time! -- Call it audacious, call it opportunistic, call it MLS Goal of the Week: Amarikwa's stunning 35-yard lob of goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey in first half stoppage time was a goal for the ages. The longest strike from the Quakes since Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi struck from distance against FC Dallas in 2014, Amarikwa's goal was also his first goal at Avaya Stadium since rejoining the team last summer.
"It was great to get," said Amarikwa. "I've only had a few assists here last year and haven't had the chance to put the ball into the back of the net at home. Road goals are good -- you need those too -- but it was nice to score one in front of our fans."
"That was something special from Quincy," added head coach Dominic Kinnear. "You always know he will give everything he's got. For him to get rewarded for a goal like that is just because does so much of the grunt work for us. It was a great individual play, it was a great touch, and it was probably shot to the only place that could beat Kwarasey."
To that point, the Quakes had been living dangerously in the first half, with the defense time after time forced to make last-ditch efforts to block Timbers' shots on target. Wondolowski's goal earlier in the half took some of the pressure off the San Jose defense, but Portland had regained the momentum. Amarikwa's first half was otherwise nondescript, as the Timbers were able to contain him on aerial challenges in the attacking third. That he had to start the sequence on his goal from his own side of the center line probably is no surprise.
"Wow!" was Wondolowski's one-word assessment of the goal. "Unbelievable. It was a great goal. The finish was sublime, but the whole thing embodies Quincy right there. He muscles off two guys in his own half, sprints away from couple guys, and then hits a world-class finish. That was something special."
Wide midfielders take wing -- After starting much of the preseason, as well as the season opener, partnered with Anibal Godoy in the center of the formation, Simon Dawkins saw his first minutes as a wide midfielder against the Timbers, and he looked much, much more comfortable. Add to that the play of Alberto Quintero on the other side of the pitch, and San Jose looked to have found a perfect combination of wingers.
The formation change was permitted by the return of Fatai Alashe to the starting eleven after he had sat out the entire preseason recovering from injury. Paired with Godoy, in tandem a shield in front of the center backs, Alashe looked fresh on the field. Not asked to do too much -- Godoy was the midfield captain on the afternoon -- Alashe rarely put a wrong foot forward for the Quakes all match. Unfortunately, a late game muscle tweak required him to be subbed off -- hopefully not for another extended spell of time.
Clarence Great-son -- When preseason closed a few weeks back and the Earthquakes limped through an uninspiring 1-0 win against the New York Cosmos, Clarence Goodson admitted the team had some improving to do. Well, against the Timbers, Goodson and the defense did little wrong against the defending champs. In fact, the 33-year-old center back made the defensive play of the game, tracking back from the midfield stripe to deny Fanendo Adi with a sliding tackle in the first half.
"That was an excellent tackle, you have to give him that," said Adi. "He did very well for the Earthquakes today. Of course I didn't see him, but I heard his footsteps, so I tired to shoot early. He did very well to block the goal."
Goodson's teammates along the back four also looked like world-beaters on Sunday. Rookie Kip Colvey on the left and 11-year veteran Marvell Wynne on the right were excellent of managing the Timbers wingers, and Goodson's partner in the middle Victor Bernardez played to his lofty standards. A late hiccup from Colvey did allow Jack McInerney to tally for the Timbers, but it was the only blemish on the afternoon for the Earthquakes defense.