by Marko Ukalovic
SAN JOSE, Calif- Portland Timbers goalkeeper Steve Clark made five saves against the San Jose Earthquakes. His fourth one was a game saver that allowed his team to escape with a 1-1 draw on Wednesday evening at Earthquakes Stadium.
Shea Salinas crossed a ball into the middle of the box to Chris Wondolowski in the 89th minute. Wondo headed the ball heading into the left corner of the goal before Clark’s diving attempt swatted the ball away preventing San Jose from scoring the potential game winning goal.
The Quakes poured on the chances late in the match, including a free kick by Vako from 15 yards out in the 88th minute that was blocked the Timbers defense, but Clark made sure they didn’t complete the comeback.
San Jose now sits in the cellar of the Western Conference with only 11 points. Portland moved into seventh place with 15.
San Jose head coach Matias Almeyda injected some youth into the starting lineup in attempt to spark his team that has looked anemic in the past two matches. Jacob Akanyirige made his debut for San Jose. The 18-year old fullback from Pleasanton, Calif is another homegrown talent to make his debut this season. He joined the Quakes Academy when he was 14 years old.
Another big lineup change by Almeyda was inserting goalkeeper James Marcinkowski into the starting lineup. Marcinkowski, who replaced Daniel Vega, made his first start since October 28, 2018.
“I think what was going through my head was hoping to help the team win. I think that’s what all of us try to do. We try to go out there and perform our best. At the end of the day, we’re trying to get three points. It was nice to be back out there of course, but a little unlucky to not get all three tonight. Secondly, with the save, I think it’s just one of those things where time slows down, and you just try to make the save. It wasn’t anything too spectacular I don’t think. It was kind of down to my right, but, yeah, at the end of the day I’m just trying to help the team get three points. It kind of leaves a little bit of a sour taste in your mouth, but it was great to be back out there,” said Marcinkowski.
San Jose (2-4-5) had its first quality scoring chance in the 29th minute when Oswaldo Alanís sent in a free kick initially saved by Steve Clark. Florian Jungwirth had a point-blank chance but kicked it off the arm of Clark for his third save of the first half.
Portland (4-4-3) capitalized on a Quakes turnover at midfield four minutes later. Diego Chará, found his brother Yimmi Chará down the left side of the pitch. Chará beat Paul Marie in a one-on-one battle down the field before he chipped the ball past Marcinkowski into the right corner of the goal for his first goal as a member of the Timbers.
The Quakes Vako was inches away from evening the score when his shot hit off the right post in the 39th minute. San Jose out shot Portland 12-3 in the first 45 minutes.
San Jose kept the momentum they built in the first half, when Andrés Ríos crossed a ball into the middle and Tommy Thompson’s shot deflected off the head of a Timber’s defender in the 59th minute.
The Quakes finally scored the equalizer in the 76th minute after a pretty give-and-go between Vako and Wondo. Vako chipped the ball over to Wondolowski who returned it back with a header. Vako then danced around Clark and slid the ball into the net for his third goal of the season.
“I believe the players adapted well to our system tonight on the field. I will say again, when you have time to train, you can practice in many areas of a game plan. But when you cannot train, you can’t. The interpretation from the players has been really important, their concentration, and execution because most of the planning is done in drawing. They haven’t really trained. But in these last two games, we really have had resistance, love for the game, and we have to keep going,” said Almeyda.
Initially the goal wasn’t called on the field as a Timber defender cleared the ball away. After a couple of minutes where both teams played on, the VAR ruled to have the play reviewed. Referee Alex Chilowicz needed only a second to determine the goal counted.
It was the 10th goal conceded by Portland in the second half this season.
Marcinkowski made three saves for his first win of the season.
GAME NOTES: San Jose seven corner kicks. Portland had two.
Alanís left the game at the end of the first half with a lower body injury.
San Jose dominated the possession battle 64%-36%.
Portland was without its star midfielder Sebastian Blanco due to an ACL injury.
The Quakes have now a 5-2-5 overall home record vs. Portland. The Earthquakes have a 4-1-1 record in their last five home meetings against Portland, outscoring them 11-4.
UP NEXT: San Jose and Portland return to the pitch once again on Saturday 9/19 at 7:30pm at Earthquakes Stadium.