Timbers draw up 1-1 finale with San Jose
In their final match of the 2012 season, the Portland Timbers were unable to earn a win, nor were they able to stop San Jose Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski from scoring a goal.
By the end of the match, though, the Timbers had prevented Wondolowski from breaking the MLS single-season goal scoring record and Portland had earned a 1-1 draw before an announced sellout crowd of 20,438.
Wondolowski came into the match at Jeld-Wen Field with 26 goals, one shy of the record set by Tampa Bays Roy Lassiter in 1996.
Wondolowski, a 6-0, 165-pound 29-year-old in his ninth year in MLS, tied the record with a penalty kick in the 29th minute. But the Timbers were able to keep him from scoring again and found the equalizer on a Bright Dike goal in the 67th minute.
Going into the offseason having not lost to the top team in the league, theres some positives to take out of it, Timbers interim coach Gavin Wilkinson said. The guys came back very, very well. To come and tie against the best team in the league at the moment is a good positive for the organization.
The Timbers began the match by taking the game to the Earthquakes. Playing like a side with nothing to lose, Portland pushed the tempo and moved the ball into the San Jose attacking third time and again.
The Earthquakes' defense did not allow Portland a clean look at goal, though.
By the 10th minute, it appeared that the Timbers fire had burned out. San Jose began showing its superior skill on the ball, controlling the possession and attacking the Timbers goal.
In the 23rd minute, San Jose played a long pass down the pitch for striker Steven Lenhart. Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts came out of the box to try to defend the pass. Lenhart was able to play the ball in the air off his body and send it into the box. Both Ricketts and Lenhart raced for the ball. Lenhart reached it first. With no other play, Ricketts took Lenhart down with a tackle, setting up a penalty kick.
Wondolowski lined up at the penalty dot for San Jose. He took a running start and sent a shot into the bottom left corner.
Wilkinson chose not to comment on the referees' decision to call a penalty on Ricketts.
Id just like to congratulate Wondolowski, Wilkinson said. He had a tremendous, tremendous season. Take the decision out of it, the fact that he scored, big pat on the back for him. Hes tied the record, and its gone to a very, very good player. Thats all that Ill discuss.
With San Jose up a goal, the Quakes began slowing the tempo. But they continued to be dangerous in the final third, always looking for Wondolowski, trying to give the striker a chance to break the record.
The sides went into the locker room at halftime with the Earthquakes up 1-0 and with 45 minutes for Wondolowski to attempt to break the record.
The Timbers began the second half much the same as they began the first half. Portland was able to control possession and repeatedly moved the ball into dangerous positions. The Earthquakes' defense remained solid, though, refusing Portland a clear shot on goal.
The Timbers earned three corner kicks inside the first six minutes of the second half, but could do nothing with them.
In the 65th minute, Wondolowski had the ball on left side of the 18-yard box. With pressure coming down on him, Wondolowski turned and soft a soft shot along the ground toward the far post. Ricketts was just able to dive and make the save.
Wondolowski then missed another golden opportunity a minute later when he knocked a header wide left from inside the 6-yard-box.
In the 67th minute, Dike entered the 18-yard-box, unmarked. He fired a shot directly at San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch. The Earthquakes keeper was able to make the save, but he spilled the ball into the 6-yard box. Dike followed his shot and was able to tap in the equalizer from 4 yards.
I just tried to tuck it in the back post with my left foot, Dike said. Luckily, the keeper spilled it, and I put it back in the net.
In the 84th minute, Wondolowski took one more shot at the record. He received the ball 40 yards from goal. With no defenders on him, he turned and fired. The shot was not close, though. The ball sailed 20 feet above the crossbar.
Even though Wondolowski tied the record, the Timbers' backline took pride in not allowing him to break the record on their home pitch.
We took a lot of pride coming into this game, defender David Horst said. You dont want to be that team that gives up the record. We fought hard. The guys did a great job on 'Wondo.' Im proud of the way the guys stepped up.
The Timbers will head into what promises to be an eventful offseason as Portland rebuilds its club in the hopes of a more successful 2013 campaign.
Weve got a lot of work ahead of us, Wilkinson said. We need to make sure that we dont go back to the drawing board and rip things up to our detriment. Weve got to add valuable pieces, quality pieces that have value to the organization. Were never going to be happy until we win the whole thing.