Jewsbury's late-game heroics lift Timbers to 2-0 U.S. Open Cup win over Chivas USA
Through the pouring rain Tuesday night, the city of Portland got its first chance to watch the MLS Portland Timbers.
The announced sellout crowd of 5,061 at Merlo Field witnessed 84 minutes of very bad soccer between the only two MLS sides that have failed to earn a point in their first two matches. The Timbers could not turn their offensive opportunities into goals, and Chivas USA could not do much of anything on either side of the pitch.
Finally, with Chivas USA down to 10 men, midfielder Jack Jewsbury - who began the match on the bench - breathed life into the Timbers, scoring a goal in the 85th minute and assisting defender Eric Brunner on a goal in the 87th minute to give the Timbers a 2-0 win in the U.S. Open Cup qualifier.
'(The win) is important for confidence,' Timbers coach John Spencer said. 'We did some good things tonight. We did some not so good things tonight. But at the end of the day, the best team came out with the victory.'
The Timbers will visit the San Jose Earthquakes in April in a second-round U.S. Open Cup game. Details have yet to be determined.
The Timbers completely dominated most of the first-round match at the University of Portland, keeping the ball in Chivas USA's third. Portland created one scoring opportunity after another and finished with a 13-3 edge in shots. It could never find the back of the net, though, until the final stretch. Crosses were generally poor, and if they were good, shots were off-frame.
'We created chances and missed a couple,' Spencer said. 'In the final third, we can have a little more quality with the service in the box.'
In the 43rd minute, Chivas USA defender Andrew Boyens picked up his second yellow card, earning him an early trip to the showers.
From that point on, the visitors were on life support.
The goals continued not to come for the Timbers, though. Rather than pushing numbers and attacking the goal, the Timbers played a waiting game, keeping their same attacking formation throughout the match.
'It's easy to change the formation and put guys further advanced in an area and you put them up against defenders so you kill your own space,' Spencer said. 'We never changed the formation, we stayed patient and we tried to create the opportunities.'
Jewsbury entered the game in the 71st minute, and it took a few minutes for his legs to warm up. Then he found himself unmarked with the ball in the center of the pitch, 35 yards from the goal. Gathering himself, Jewsbury sent a rocket on the ground that slid just inside the right post, past Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.
'I turned, took a touch and I had some space there,' Jewsbury said. 'I have a decent shot from distance, so I decided to pull the trigger. With the surface being wet, I thought I'd let it go. I wanted to keep it low. Anytime you keep it low, you give yourself a chance. With the weather and the conditions of the field being wet, it can pick up some speed once it bounces in there.
"I wanted to keep it low and just keep it on frame and make the keeper make a save. Fortunately, it went in.'
Two minutes later, Jewsbury sent a corner kick from the left side into the middle of the six-yard box. Brunner got a head on the ball, saw it lying at his feet and sent a shot into the bottom-right corner.
'I was just trying to sit back and kill time,' Brunner said. 'I looked over at John, and John was like, 'Get up, get up.' I sprinted in, and Jack hit a great ball. I was fortunate enough to get a head on it, and then it popped right back to me and I put it in.'
Of course, sitting team captain Jewsbury on the bench for 71 minutes and bringing him in to save the day was all part of Spencer's grand plan for the match.
'That was kind of a pregame plan yesterday,' Spencer said, laughing. 'We said, 'We'll get them tired out and then we'll bring Jack in and Jack will score and we'll go home happy. I wish it was as simple as that. We felt that we needed a little bit of inspiration there, and that's why he's the captain.'
Now the challenge for the Timbers (0-2-0 in league play) will be carrying their momentum into the MLS regular season. They travel to New England to play the Revolution (1-0-1, 4 points) at 4:30 p.m. PT Saturday.
'This is one of many games,' Spencer said. 'This is a good victory to get that pressure off your back. The guys are a little bit relieved. Now it's back to work tomorrow.'
NOTES: With Jewsbury on the bench to start the match, Brunner wore the captain's arm band Tuesday. ... MLS rookie Jake Gleeson made one save in picking up the win in goal for Portland. ... Midfielder Sal Zizzo watched the match in street clothes, as he continues to recover from a sprained right shoulder ... Forward/midfielder Darlington Nagbe, the Timbers' No. 2 overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft, has been sidelined for the past few weeks after undergoing surgery for a sports hernia. But he dressed and was listed as probable for Tuesday's match, though he did not play.