Portland Timbers makes it five in a row at home while continuing to score
It was round three for the Portland Timbers and San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday evening, as both teams took to the pitch at Providence Park with a winning momentum on the line and maybe a bit of revenge for one side.
As stated, momentum was what was on the line last night, with two teams in different positions of playoff contention in the Western Conference. The Timbers riding a four-match winning streak, outscoring their opponents 14-4 in the process. And the Quakes enjoying a three-match winning streak of their own, including dominant back to back showings against both Los Angeles Clubs and a 3-0 win over the Whitecaps to top it off.
Still, with all of that on the line, it was a slow start for both sides, as the half-time whistle sounded with a lackluster 0-0 scoreline overhead. The lack of goals surely didn’t last long, as it was the Timbers who put the scoreboard crew to work with their first goal of the night, a beautifully placed header by Jaroslaw Niezgoda from Diego Chara in the 46′ of the match to get things started.
The Portland Timbers Keep On Scoring
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Portland’s scoring prowess over the last five matches looks unrivaled across the league, with the club putting goals in the back of the net at a high rate and receiving them from a little bit of everybody so far.
The Timbers made a commitment to make some signings back in January to address a lack of goal scoring last season, I guess so far we can say they’ve worked out.
Niezgoda was one of the more anticipated signings of the offseason, with a league-leading 14 goals back in his native Poland for a Legia Warsaw squad that regularly competes for Champions and Europa League appearances. Though he hadn’t really made his mark on MLS prior to Sunday evening’s match, with only 3 goals in 17 appearances for the Timbers including the MLS is Back Tournament.
Still adapting to the MLS game so far, after a heart defect correcting surgery back in January, it’s understandable he would need some time to heal. Sunday he took advantage of some beautiful assist work from Chara as well as some sloppy backline defending from the Quakes.
Notching two goals in Sunday’s match should be a nice morale booster for Niezgoda who has become a member of Portland’s interchangeable attack this season. His now five goals put him back in the race for the Timber’s golden boot award, which has been just as entertaining as the MLS’ version.
Records being set
Ebobisse wrote his name in the Timbers history books on Sunday, with his 73rd consecutive appearance for Portland, a new club record. It’s just another testament to the player Ebobisse has become in his short career in MLS. The 23-year-old center-forward is still young but, the nickname old faithful feels spot on when it comes to what he provides to this squad each week.
And though maybe not a record per se, the Timbers five-game winning streak has them tied with Toronto FC for the longest in MLS this season. This is also only the second time in MLS the Timbers have reached five consecutive wins, kind of makes Wednesday’s meeting with Salt Lake on the road a little more worthwhile. Rather than just a chance to make up for one of the bigger comebacks of the season back in late August.
Shake it off San Jose
The Quakes shouldn’t be worried, as a 0-3 loss to one of the hottest teams in MLS is nothing to scoff at. They enter the week still in playoff contention, sitting in the No. 7 spot in the west and have a favorable next three matches lined up, as they take on the LA Galaxy on Wednesday, having faced off three times already this season finishing 1-1-1.
They’ll face another big test against the Sounders on Sunday and then have nearly a week to prepare to secure three more points against the Whitecaps next Saturday on the road in Portland, yes Portland.
Sunday night’s win leaves the Timbers tied atop the Western Conference with Cascadia rivals, Seattle. Tied on points with 30 in 16 matches, Portland needs to take advantage of that extra gear head coach Gio Savarese keeps mentioning and doesn’t let up.
Seattle is coming off of a 1-3 loss on the road against LAFC, who fielded a squad that combined aging veterans and fresh faces to MLS all in one match. So for any hope of overtaking the Sounders over the next couple of weeks, indeed find that extra gear before Seattle begins to bounce back.
For anyone questioning the chemistry or effort of this Timbers squad, or just need to start your day on a good note, I leave you with the above now justifiably converted GIF of Timber’s goalkeeper Steve Clark hugging left-back Jorge Villafaña above after some terrific clearance on Sunday.