SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose Earthquakes celebrated their homecoming following a three game road trip with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over the Portland Timbers at sold-out Avaya Stadium as Chris Wondolowski scored twice and notched an assist.
Jahmir Hyka scored the opening goal for San Jose and Florian Jungwirth added two assists on the night, as the Quakes pushed their unbeaten streak at home to five games. It was the biggest margin of victory for the Quakes since beating Sporting Kansas City 5-0 on August 19, 2015.
"It was a good 90 minutes,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “We were focused. They had some moments where they were controlling the game and had chances, but I thought overall we were good on both sides of the ball. Good performances, good goals and a great three points for us."
The Earthquakes starting XI was unchanged from the previous week, Kinnear looked to keep the momentum from last Saturday’s 1-0 win at Minnesota. In the first half alone, the Quakes took 11 shots, 7 on target, as the squad looked dangerous from the opening kickoff.
"It was one of those games you really love playing in,” said Wondolowski. “It was great that it all came together. It was nice, especially offensively, to click and see the final result.”
Helping San Jose’s cause on the night was the absence of Darlington Nagbe and Diego Valeri from the Portland line-up. The two influential midfielder were scratched late, and it showed in the possession numbers, as the Quakes outplayed the Timbers 54% to 46%.
“[Nagbe and Valeri] are real key to how we play,” said Portland head coach Caleb Porter. “We knew we wouldn’t have as much creativity, possession, and imagination without those two because they are our two primary playmakers. We lacked cohesion and chemistry, and you saw that in our chance creation.”
The missing Timbers did not change the approach the Quakes took on the night, though it was somewhat welcome to see that they wouldn’t be playing.
“We had a lot of confidence coming into this game and felt we really took advantage of that,” said Wondolowski. “It definitely helps to look up and not see Nagbe and Valeri out there, but we were really concentrating on our game plan.”
Portland did finish with 15 shots to San Jose’s 17, but many of those came late, and the Quakes defense did what it needed to do to preserve the team’s second straight shutout, third in four games.
“Anytime when you look at our teams, you see a complete team,” said goalkeeper David Bingham. “You never see one guy just hanging out up top or taking plays off. All the guys that come in commit to the system and put everything on the line together every game. We’re all one team here. You can’t single anyone out because everyone’s busting their tail out there and you see it in the results.”
The three goal outburst was the most for San Jose since a 3-1 win against the Houston Dynamo last season at Avaya Stadium, and for a team that has not found the back of the net consistently, the result was a welcome one. Much of that can be attributed to the move of Wondolowski into more of a midfield role — one he played in his Golden Boot winning 2010 season — as Kinnear gets more of his offense minded players on the field together.
“Especially with the attacking guys we have, it makes it nice,” said Wondolowski. “The freedom and the interchange that we have, it’s a great thing because we can go everywhere on the field and understand our movement.”
That interplay was evident from the opening whistle.
In just the 8th minute, a flurry of activity in front of the LOBINA ended with Hyka slamming home the Earthquakes first goal of the evening. Wondolowski earned the assist when he redirected a wide shot from Darwin Ceren to the center of the six yard box for the Albanian midfielder to sweep past goalkeeper Jeff Attinella. It was Wondo’s fifth assist of the season, two off his career high set in 2014.
The Wondolowski show continued in the 31st minute, when the Earthquakes leading scorer touch a deft touch to bring a pass from Jungwirth onto his right foot just inside the area. With little room to operate, Wondo curled one past Attinella to the far post that doubled the Quakes lead.
Wondolowski scored his second of the night in the 55th minute following an expert through ball from Jungwirth that saw the forward one-on-one with Attinella. It was the Cascadia Killer’s 10 goal all-time against the Timbers, most by any Portland opponent in the MLS era. Wondo also has 11 career goals against both the Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps, giving him double digits against all three Pacific Northwest clubs.
The Quakes didn’t let off the gas even with a 3-0 lead, as they constantly found space in the Timbers half of the field. Portland did get their chances, striking the LOBINA with a long range effort in the 82nd minute that had patrons scrambling for cover, but the center back tandem of Jungwirth and Victor Bernardez kept every attack at bay.
The victory was the second in a row for the Quakes — the first time they have put back to back wins together since the opening two games of the season — and pushed them back above the red line in the Western Conference. Up next is a weekend match at struggling Colorado before returning home for a midweek clash against Kaka and the Orlando City SC. San Jose will look for keep their momentum going as they near the one-third mark of the 2017 MLS season.