As Timbers fans left Jeld-Wen Field on Tuesday night gone were the loud choruses of chants filling the concourses of the stadium and MAX trains replaced by a stunned silence that swept over the crowd after San Jose’s Ike Opara headed in the winner after 120 minutes of play and dismissed any hope of the team qualifying for the 2011 U.S. Open Cup.
The teams met in Portland as San Jose was unable to host the second round of qualifying for the U.S. Open Cup and was the first meeting since playing a pair of U.S. Open Cup games in 2004 and 2005 in Portland’s previous incarnation as a second division side.
It was a disappointing effort that saw the Timbers field a reserve team with the exception of Troy Perkins against San Jose’s usual suspects. While the Timbers played admirably for 120 minutes neither team shone in a largely forgettable match up.
John Spencer, the Timbers head coach, explained after the game his decision to not press the first teamers into service even late into extra time, “You realize we have a game on Friday. It’s Major League Soccer, there are points on the table to be had and I think that’s the reason why we had so many (regulars) not starting. We put a team out there that we felt could win the game. I don’t think there was much difference in quality between the two teams.”
San Jose who had been struggling as of late in form became the first team to take down the Timbers at home which pleased Frank Yallop, the Earthquakes coach, “The atmosphere was terrific, obviously winning helps you say that everything’s nice but I think all in all the guys enjoyed the experience and it’s obviously nice to come away with a victory.”
On the field it was the game was controlled in its early stages by the Timbers who attempted to sail balls over the Earthquakes defense but proved unable to break through for the goal. Portland seemed unable to put together much in the final third and lacked the finishing touch that would be required to advance. Capitalizing on that San Jose called Timbers goal keeper, Troy Perkins, into service several times threatening to steal one near the end of regulation including a shot from Ryan Johnson in the 75th minute which Perkins was able to get some fingers on and send just over the crossbar.
The game was marked by chippy play, leading to a combined 45 fouls including 8 yellow cards. Most notably San Jose substitute Steven Lenhart appeared to capitalize on a service into the box and score the go ahead goal. The referee immediately waved it off having ruled Lenhart used his arm to score and was summarily issued a yellow card.
Looking ahead, the Timbers will look to bounce back and take three points at home against the Philadelphia Union on Friday in a game being nationally televised on Fox Soccer.
(image courtesy of Miranda Chrislock/Portland Timbers)