The San Jose Earthquakes kicked off their first game of the preseason Wednesday morning, and it went about as good could be expected. Played over three 30-minute periods and featuring every member of the roster, the game against the Portland Timbers finished in a scoreless draw.
The match marked the debuts of new head coaches on both ends of the touchline, as Mikael Stahre held charge for the Quakes and Giovanni Saravese guided the Timbers. Both MLS newcomers feature plenty of experience — Stahre in his native Sweden and Saravese with the New York Cosmos — and each will be looking to quickly create a strong team identity to start the regular season in March.
The Earthquakes starting eleven for the first 30-minute period was highlighted by a trio of the team’s most potent attackers — Chris Wondolowski, Vako, and Magnus Eriksson — but it was the defense that was kept busy from the opening whistle.
Goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell, last season’s starter and the presumed number one this year, saved an early penalty kick by Fernando Adi in the opening session to make the play of the game. He later made another important stop, this time against reigning MLS MVP Diego Valeri, as the Timbers enjoyed a man-advantage following the sending off of rookie defender Paul Marie.
San Jose returned to full strength to start the second period, as an entirely new starting eleven took the field. Defender Nick Lima, fresh off a month training with the U.S. men’s national team, stepped right into the Quakes back line, already looking ready to start the season.
The Earthquakes came close to taking the lead twice in the session two, as both Danny Hoesen and Jahmir Hyka were able to test the Portland defense and create scoring opportunities. Meanwhile, San Jose stayed solid in the back against last year’s Western Conference points leaders, as defender Harold Cummings, captaining the back four, continued his improved preseason play.
The final period of the game brought out the rookies, draft picks, and newcomers — as well as forgotten designated player Simon Dawkins — as Stahre emptied his bench to fashion a third starting eleven. Teenagers Gilbert Fuentes and Jacob Akanyirige saw their first play against MLS competition, with the former looking sharp in midfield. Rookie forward Danny Muscovski performed well at the top of the formation, coming closest to getting the Earthquakes on the scoreboard.
Two of the newest Quakes, defender Jimmy Ockford and midfielder Eric Calvillo, had a reunion of sorts in going up against Saravese, as both players played for the Timbers head coach when he was with the Cosmos.
San Jose will continue to train in Arizona for another week as it prepares for the opening of the MLS regular season on March 3. The Earthquakes end their desert stay on February 7 with a preseason game against Real Salt Lake.
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Portland Timbers complete line-ups
First Period: Andrew Tarbell; Shea Salinas, Francois Affolter, Yeferson Quintana, Paul Marie (ejection 7); Anibal Godoy, Florian Jungwirth; Vako, Magnus Eriksson; Chris Wondolowski, Quincy Amarikwa.
Second Period: Matt Bersano; Joel Qwiberg, Harold Cummings, Jimmy Ockford, Nick Lima; Jahmir Hyka, Fatai Alashe, Jackson Yueill, Tommy Thompson; Danny Hoesen; Mohamed Thiaw.
Third Period: JT Marcinkowski; Antoine Hoppenot, Jacob Akanyirige, Jimmy Ockford (Francois Affolter 77), Kevin Partida; Eric Calvillo, Luis Felipe, Gilbert Fuentes, Chris Wehan; Simon Dawkins, Danny Musovski.