Forward Kenny Cooper scored his sixth goal of the season to help the Portland Timbers to a 1-1 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes before a sold-out crowd of 18,627 at JELD-WEN Field on Wednesday night.
With the draw and results around the league earlier in the day, the Timbers (10-12-7, 37pts) gain sole possession of the 10th and final playoff position – a wildcard spot – and trail the Houston Dynamo in the ninth spot in the playoff standings by just two points.
Similar to the first regular-season matchup between Portland and San Jose back in August, the Timbers took a first-half lead on a goal by Cooper, scoring in the ninth minute. The Timbers withstood some close chances by the Earthquakes, but the visiting side was able to break through in the 70th minute on a shot from forward Khari Stephenson that snuck just inside the left post to knot the score at 1-1.
Cooper found the back of the net for a second straight match, forward Darlington Nagbe logged his third assist of the season, goalkeeper Troy Perkins recorded six saves and midfielder Kalif Alhassan attempted a team-high five shots as the Timbers extended their current unbeaten streak to five games.
Stephenson tallied his second goal in two games, midfielder Rafael Baca recorded his second MLS assist and goalkeeper Jon Busch notched four second-half saves amongst his six on the night to help the Earthquakes (6-11-12, 30pts) earn a point on the road.
Nine minutes in, Nagbe collected the ball deep in the right corner and worked it into the box on the right side. He threaded a pass through to find Cooper making a run toward goal. On his first touch, Cooper popped the ball inside the left post, placing his shot into the side netting to lift the Timbers to a 1-0 lead.
The Earthquakes leveled the score in the 70th minute on Stephenson's fifth goal of the year. After receiving the ball at the top of the box, Baca played the ball back out to Stephenson just outside the box along the left post. Stephenson collected the ball and took an off-balance shot, which snuck its way through the box and inside the left post, beating a diving Perkins.
The Earthquakes held a 10-7advantage in shots at the end of the first half. Defender Nana Attakora had the chance to even the score in the 32nd minute, but his header off a long-range free kick just over the crossbar. Six minutes later, timely tackles by Portland's Eric Brunner and Diego Chara deflected wide a Chris Wondolowski shot from the doorstep.
Portland had a chance to add to its lead shortly after Cooper's goal. In the 13th minute, a cross in by midfielder Sal Zizzo set up Nagbe for a volley from near the spot, which was stopped by a reaction save from Busch. Nagbe and Cooper teamed up again just before the break, and Cooper's chip shot from just beyond the arch was tipped over the frame by Busch.
The goalkeepers from each club combined for six saves in the second half, as both the Timbers and Earthquakes pushed for all three points. In the 87th minute, Perkins, who recorded four saves in the first half, turned away a header by Wondolowski with an outstretched hand, off the bounce, as he dove towards his right post. A minute later, a ball played in by Alhassan narrowly missed the extended foot of Brunner on the edge of the six yard box and Busch was there to collect the save.
The Timbers cap their two-match week Saturday as they visit the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena; kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m. live on ROOT SPORTS. Starting Saturday, Portland plays four of its last five matches on the road.
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