Timbers draw with Quakes
On a less than ideal surface in a less than ideal week, the Portland Timbers rode several big Steve Clark saves and Yimmi Chara's first goal to a 1-1 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes.
Clark finished with five saves, including a sprawling one in the 89th minute to deny Chris Wondolowski's header in the Wednesday MLS match at San Jose, California.
San Jose dominated possession (64% to 36%) and every attacking statistic, but Portland led on the strength of Yimmi Chara's 33rd-minute goal until Valeri "Vako" Qazaishvili evened the score in the 76th minute.
The result leaves Portland at 4-4-3 (15 points). The Timbers are tied on points with the two Los Angeles clubs but sit seventh in the Western Conference based on goal differential. Despite the draw, San Jose fell to the bottom of the West at 2-4-5 (11 points).
The match was played on a slippery turf that caused players from both teams to struggle with their footing.
Head coach Giovanni Savarese said he expected a challenging surface, but that Wednesday's field conditions were worse than usual.
"The field wasn't ideal. The grass wasn't at a top level," Savarese said, noting that the pitch at San Jose has been slippery each time the Timbers play there. "It's something to do with the field. Today was a little bit worse than I've seen it before."
Because of the smoke smothering Portland, the Timbers trained at an indoor facility leading up to Wednesday's match.
With a return trip to San Jose coming on Saturday, Savarese fielded a heavily rotated lineup.
Marco Farfan played at left back and Pablo Bonilla at right back with Dario Zuparic and Bill Tuiloma in the middle of the defense. Diego Chara was flanked by Eryk Williamson and Andy Polo in midfield and Jaroslaw Niezgoda flanked by Yimmi Chara and Felipe Mora up front.
In the 64th minute, Jeremy Ebobisse replaced Felipe Mora, Marvin Loria replaced Chara and Cristhian Paredes replaced Williamson. In the 81st minute, Tomas Conechney entered for Niezgoda.
Diego Valeri did not play.
Portland's substitutes could not create any real danger. A couple of promising upfield possessions ended with Paredes failing to find the decisive pass.
Portland's attackers saw very little of the ball. San Jose had a 19-6 advantage in shots attempted (6-3 on goal) and San Jose earned seven corner kicks to only two for Portland.
But Savarese was upbeat about the performance in postgame media comments, emphasizing that it was good to get minutes for players who need them.
"Pleased with the performance, with the work that the team put in," Savarese said. "There was a lot of positives coming out of this game."
One of those, Savarese said, was the defensive work from left back Farfan. The Centennial High graduate, in just his third appearance in regular-season play in 2020, performed well to limit opportunities for San Jose winger Cristian Espinoza.
Yimmi Chara's goal started with an assist from his brother Diego Chara, who won possession in the center circle and quickly sent the ball forward to his brother on the left wing. Yimmi Chara spun around defender Paul Marie, dribbled into the penalty area and used a perfect left-footed chip to beat goalkeeper James Marcinkowski.
"Yimmi played an excellent game today, was able to score a beautiful goal," Savarese said, noting that the team has been managing minutes for the 29-year-old since he was injured at the MLS is Back tournament.
Translated from Spanish, Yimmi Chara said he was very happy to finally score for the Timbers.
"This is something I was looking for for a long time and something that I've been working very hard to achieve," he said.
"For me, it's a great feeling. I think he deserved to score," Diego Chara said.
The Charas are the fifth set of brothers to team up on a MLS goal, joining Chris and Sean Henderson, Alex and Cristian Roldan, Bradley and Shaun Wright-Phillips and Jamar and DeMarcus Beasley.
Vako, who hit the post with a first-half shot, scored the San Jose goal in the 76th minute. Wondolowski, who came on in the 69th minute and brought life to the Quakes, headed a ball down into space behind Bonilla. Vako touched the ball around Clark and put a low shot on target. Zuparic made a sliding attempt to clear the ball, and play continued for a few seconds before referee Alex Chilowicz blew for a video review. He needed only a second to see that the ball completely crossed the goal line before Zuparic made contact.
In addition to Vako's bender off the post in the first half, the Earthquakes had a great chance to take the lead in the 29th minute.
Clark dropped a shot from Oswaldo Alanis. The rebound fell to San Jose's Florian Jungwirth who looked certain to score until Clark reacted with his right arm or shoulder to block the attempt.
Portland's best shot for a second goal came in the 55th minute, when Niezgoda had a chance from near the penalty spot to make it 2-0. He didn't catch the ball cleanly and Marcinkowski made the save diving to his right.
The same teams play on the same pitch Saturday at 7:30 p.m. (KPDX/FOX 12 Plus TV). Under MLS protocols, the Timbers are flying back to Portland Wednesday night and will fly to San Jose on Saturday.
"This week has been very tough. Not being able to have good and clean air to be able to have normal training," Savarese said.
He hopes the smoke clears enough for a normal practice ahead of Saturday's return to San Jose.
"It's always difficult when you don't have the chance to be able to practice these things, just to have everybody be very sharp," Savarese said. "But overall, the guys had a great game. They worked very hard."
• T2 wins on road — Jorge Gonzalez scored the go-ahead goal and assisted on Marcus Epps' tying goal as Portland rallied in the second half for a 2-1 win over Real Monarchs SCL in USL Championship play at Herriman, Utah.
The first road win of the season and the second in a row overall leaves T2's record at 2-10-0. Next is aa 6 p.m. Sunday match against Reno 1868. All USL Championship league matches are streamed on ESPN-Plus.
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