Major League Soccer

Timbers-Earthquakes Preview

The Portland Timbers are still looking to rediscover their MLS Is Back tournament form heading into a Wednesday night matchup with the struggling San Jose Earthquakes.

The Timbers (4-4-2) are in the middle of the pack in the Western Conference, entering this match in sixth place on 14 points. Portland, which won more games en route to the tournament title than it currently has in the regular season, has taken just four points in five matches (1-1-3) and is coming off a 4-2 loss at Los Angeles FC on Sunday.

Eryk Williamson and Jeremy Ebobisse scored first-half goals 18 minutes apart, but during those 18 minutes the Timbers fell apart defensively and conceded three goals. Portland nearly tied it twice in the second half when Dario Zuparic had a header cleared off the line and Diego Valerri hit the woodwork with a free kick, but an equalizer was not to be had.

"We had a very good game for the majority of the match," Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese told The Oregonian. "Fifteen minutes, from the water break to the end of the first half, we give up three goals and we make it difficult on us. Besides those 15 minutes, we had a lot of good play, we created chances, we were very good."

The match also showed the Timbers can generate offense without playmaker Sebastian Blanco, who is out for the season with a torn ACL. Ebobisse and Valeri share the team lead with five goals, and Valeri picked up his fifth assist in the last seven matches in all competitions.

Savarese also will have the services of midfielder Diego Chara for this match after he sat out Sunday's loss due to an accumulation of yellow cards. Portland has also been training indoors this week due to the poor air quality as a result of the wildfires blazing across the West Coast.

"As we know, it's 2020. We are dealing with every situation, adapt to it and find the solution," Savarese said. "The guys have been great mentality wise to make sure we do everything we need to do."

San Jose (2-4-4) has not been as adept at adapting and enters this contest looking to end a five-match winless spell (0-3-2). After getting throttled 7-1 at Seattle on Thursday night, the Earthquakes took a small step forward Sunday and claimed a point in a scoreless draw versus the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Matias Almeyda made five personnel changes to his starting XI while keeping his man-marking style, and the newly formed spine of central midfielders Tommy Thompson and Florian Jungwirth along with Guram Kashia at center back contributed to San Jose's first clean sheet since July 11 versus Seattle in Orlando.

"I think our energy and our discipline as a team was one of the biggest differences," Thompson told the team's official website. "We made it clear in the locker room that we wanted to show something different. What happened on Thursday couldn't happen today. We wanted to make sure that we were in good shape, that we were doing everything we can to get back to the performances that we had in Orlando."

San Jose has scored only five goals in its five matches since returning from Orlando and gone 270 minutes without a goal in the run of play since Danny Hoesen scored a consolation goal in the 'Quakes' 5-1 loss to Los Angeles FC on Sept. 2. Chris Wondolowski has accounted for the offense in the last three matches with a pair of penalties, giving the all-time MLS leader in goals 163 for his career.

The home team won both matches last year as the 'Quakes cruised to a 3-0 victory behind first-half goals from Hoesen, Shea Salinas, and Cristian Espinoza. Portland claimed a split with a 3-1 victory in the most recent matchup.

Updated September 15, 2020

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