JULY 14, 2004
Shorthanded Timbers no match for San Jose
A crowd of 10,660 witnessed an historic match at PGE Park, the first US Open Cup home match for the Portland Timbers as they hosted MLS's San Jose Earthquakes. But most fans would go home disappointed as the Earthquakes would play 72 minutes up a man, and run away to a 3-0 win over the Timbers. Ronnie Ekelund would convert a penalty kick, with Ramiro Corrales and Dwayne DeRosario scoring in the 2nd half for the Quakes.
For the first ten minutes of the match, it was the Timbers that looked to be the squad from the first division, as they controlled much of the run of play, and had a few good early chances. In the 3rd minute, a Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar cross had Portland's Alan Gordon set for a header near the far post, but Gordon had to lean back a bit too much for it and put it over the bar. In the 9th minute, Timbers midfielder Alex Bengard had a good look from near the top of the box, but hit his shot just wide.
After enduring the long Timbers possessions early in the match, the visiting Earthquakes started to wake up during the next few minutes, and in the 15th minute, the first official shot on goal for either team was San Jose's Ramiro Corrales whose hard shot from 20 yards out was stopped just under the bar by Portland goalkeeper Josh Saunders, who was playing against his former team.
In the 17th minute, the tone of the match would be set on a controversial play inside the Timbers box. Portland defender Gavin Wilkinson and Brian Ching were battling near the top of the box, with Wilkinson tugging Ching as he moved into the box for the shot. Ching went down just after taking the shot, which was saved by Saunders. But center referee Richard Heron determined that the tug was enough to not only award a penalty kick, but Wilkinson was immediately ejected from the match. Ronnie Eckelund would step up to slip the penalty kick just inside the left post, and the Timbers were now facing an even greater challenge as they would have to attempt to fight back for the next 72 minutes while down a man.
For much of the rest of the second half, it would be a shooting gallery for the Earthquakes as the Timbers were unable to compensate for losing their team captain and center defender, and also trying to deal with the team speed of the Earthquakes. In the 25th minute, Ching had another good chance as he was able to free up the ball as he charged into the box to challenge the Timbers defenders as they were attempting to clear, and Ching's open look at the goal from 10 yards out was over the crossbar. In the 28th minute, Landon Donovan slipped into the box under heavy pressure from two Timbers defenders, but his point blank shot was saved by Saunders as the Timbers defender charged off his line. Five minutes later Donovan had another good look inside the Timbers box, but his shot was blocked off his foot by Timbers midfielder Jake Sagare.
In the 42nd minute, another moment of controversy occurred, this time in the Earthquakes box as a shot from the top of the box by Portland's Byron Alvarez appeared to be stopped on it's way to goal by an outstretched arm of a San Jose defender. But the play was waved on by the referee, and though Gordon got a chance to hit the rebound, the shot was just over the bar, and the half would end with the Earthquakes holding a 1-0 lead.
Early in the 2nd half, it was the Timbers that were once again controlling the flow of play, as they had early in the match, as they desperately looked to equalize. In the 53rd minute, Bengard had found himself seemingly open at the top of the box, but Bengard never put the shot towards goal, dropping the ball to Alcaraz-Cuellar before the Quakes recovered and cleared.
Three minutes later, it would be the Earthquakes who would make the Timbers pay for pushing too many people forward when defender Shawn Saunders lost the ball to Ching, who slipped a pass across the box to Corrales, who buried the shot into the upper corner to push the Earthquakes lead out to 2-0.
Two minutes later, the Earthquakes once again had a great chance when a pass found Ching open at the top of the box, but a diving save by Saunders to the keeper's left kept Ching from getting on the scorer's sheet. Through this part of the second half, the Earthquakes were keeping control of the ball at will, often just playing the ball back and forth across midfield with skillful passes that had the Timbers forwards and midfielders getting frustrated at their inability to do anything about it.
In the 67th minute, the Timbers had perhaps their best scoring chance to this point when midfielder Jake Sagare made a run down the left side, and hit a powerful shot from just inside the box that San Jose goalkeeper Jon Conway just was able to get a finger on at full stretch to tip the ball wide of the bar. On the ensuing corner, a clearance from the box fell right to the foot of Bengard, who hit a shot from 25 yards out just a yard or so wide to the right.
In the 79th minute, the Timbers had a great chance to pull a goal back when Gordon slipped around Conway near the endline, and chipped a pass into the box that ended up on the foot of Alcaraz-Cuellar, who played a perfect pass to a wide-open Alvarez, but the Timbers striker only managed a weak shot right at Conway, who had just gotten back into position in time.
Just one minute later, the Earthquakes put the match away when a cross from Brian Mullan found Dwayne DeRosario unmarked near the far post, and the San Jose striker's header slipped just inside the left post to put the Earthquakes up 3-0, the first time the A-League Timbers have ever trailed by three goals on their home pitch, and it would be the last scoring opportunity for either team as the Earthquakes go on to face either Minnesota or Los Angeles in the quarterfinal round after a 3-0 shutout of the Timbers.
Josh Saunders had two saves in the losing effort against his former team, while Jon Conway had three saves in the victory.