Two goals within 22 minutes in the first half doomed the Timbers, who slumped to a 4-1 defeat in Dallas last Saturday. Michael Barrios’s first half brace, Kellyn Acosta’s 69’ screamer, and a Mauro Diaz penalty were countered only by a Fanendo Adi PK.
New signing Lucas Melano came on in the 64’ and, in his first appearance as a Timber, was one of Portland’s bright spots. The Argentine forward used his pace to draw Ryan Hollingshead into a yellow card tackle and Zach Lloyd into conceding a penalty.
What does it mean?
The loss drops Portland’s road record to 3-7-1, with a goal differential of -13. In their last three road games, the Timbers have been outscored 12-1. The West remains tight, and the Timbers are still only four points out of second place. Weirdly, Portland’s 32 points would have them in second in the East.
There are four teams below Portland in the West standings, and Sunday’s opponent, the San Jose Earthquakes, is one. The 7-9-4 Quakes have lost four in a row; in fact, Portland’s last win was against this same team, at Providence Park.
Dominic Kinnear’s Earthquakes sport the league’s second-worst goals total, 22 in 20 games (1.1 goals/gm). They are, however, dangerous at their new home, boasting a strong 4-2-2 record at Avaya Stadium.
The goal-challenged Quakes have their talisman, USMNT striker Chris Wondolowski, back from Gold Cup duty. Additionally, midfielders Sanna Nyassi and Matias Perez Garcia, their assist leader, return to action, making this edition of the Earthquakes much more dangerous than the group that lost in the Rose City, with only 39% of the possession.
Water Cooler Stat
Portland needs 25 points, or 8 wins and a draw to equal their best-in-the-West total of 57 from 2013. With only 6 home games remaining, the Timbers need to get it done away from Providence Park.
Opposing player to watch: Perez Garcia
The 30-year old Argentine midfielder was raised in the same Lanùs youth system as Diego Valeri and Lucas Melano. While diminutive (5’5), the Quakes’ #10 has adapted to MLS (and it’s physical style of play) in his second year. His 33 completed crosses are fourth-best among midfielders, and with the Timbers being prone as they are to conceding goals off of set pieces, Perez Garcia (with Wondolowski back, to boot) poses a credible threat.
Timber to watch: Lucas Melano
The 22-year old Argentine DP impressed in his 26-minute cameo last week and is likely to get significantly more minutes this match. Caleb Porter, Gavin Wilkinson & Co. brought him in to score goals, and with points on the road a must, look to Portland’s shiny new signing to deliver.