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Timbers out for blood in rematch?


Some bad blood could be brewing between the Portland Timbers and San Jose Earthquakes.

The teams meet at 8 p.m. Sunday at Santa Clara University’s 10,525-seat Buck Shaw Stadium — one week after Portland won 1-0 at Jeld-Wen Field in a game so physical the referee went to his book several times.

San Jose’s Alan Gordon won’t be eligible for the rematch, but Victor Bernardez, who drew a yellow card for a hard tackle on Portland striker Ryan Johnson, will be in the lineup.

Do vendettas carry over from one match to the next?

“Sometimes,” Johnson says. “You don’t want to be on the wrong end of those. You have to take care of yourself and watch out.”

And, will the physical play carry over into Sunday’s game?

“Probably,” Johnson says. “Especially since they got the red card with (Gordon’s) elbow (to the mouth of Timbers defender Mikael Silvestre). Where it’s going to come from, I don’t know. I’m sure guys aren’t going to forget that.”

Timbers coach Caleb Porter stresses that while San Jose is a physical club, the scoreboard will reflect which side plays better football, rather than which side has the better fighters.

“They want to fight,” Porter says of the Earthquakes and their physical style. “But we have no problem with that, because we’ll fight, too.

“But one of the things I told the guys is that we need to outfight them, but we also need to out-football them.”

Gordon’s first yellow card last Sunday came on a hard tackle against Portland midfielder Diego Chara.

Johnson says he also “almost took a bad tackle in the far corner. Good thing I saw it coming. ... Sometimes you have to be the one who delivers those kinds of messages, because you don’t want to be on the receiving end all the time.”

Portland goes into Sunday’s game on a two-match winning streak and with a 2-1-3 record (nine points). San Jose is 2-3-2 (eight points).

The Quakes are 2-1-1 at home this season. The Timbers are 0-0-2 on the road.

“If we out-football them, all the physical stuff they want to do won’t really matter,” Johnson says.

• Timbers midfielder Will Johnson scored his third goal of the season against the Earthquakes with a brilliant strike on a free kick from 22 yards.

Johnson had been practicing his free kicks throughout the week. Many of the ones he took in training did not work out nearly as well as the one he took in the match, though.

Johnson says his teammates weren’t happy about how many times he sent shots over the fence and smashing into his teammates’ parked cars.

“There were some wayward kicks,” Johnson says. “Hopefully everyone will be forgiving of me (now).”

• With three goals in the Timbers’ first six matches, midfielder Will Johnson already has matched his season best.

In his previous six MLS seasons, Johnson totaled 10 goals in 120 matches.

Last season with Real Salt Lake, Johnson had three goals in 26 games, 23 of them starts.

He had 184 shots in those 120 matches before coming to Portland in a December trade with RSL. He has taken 16 shots with the Timbers.

“I have a little more freedom, a little more of a role to get forward,” says Johnson, a 26-year-old from Toronto. “Being right in the middle of the field, you’re able to see everything, and you’re usually able to get forward.

“I’ve always had the ability to score goals, and it’s nice to be producing for the team.”

• Defender Michael Harrington attributes the defense’s success to a group of mostly new players starting to jell.

“We’ve figured each other out,” Harrington says. “We’ve figured out tactically how to manage the game properly. We’ve realized that if we stay compact and we’re smart in the first half, that it helps us to win games.”