After a crucial road win against a bitter rival, the Portland Timbers face the challenge of not overlooking their opponent when the last-place San Jose Earthquakes visit Providence Park on Saturday night.
Larrys Mabiala’s surprising two-goal performance helped Portland (7-3-5, 26 points) to a 3-2 victory over the struggling Seattle Sounders on Saturday afternoon, the Timbers’ first win in 11 regular-season visits to CenturyLink Field.
The win stretched the Timbers’ unbeaten run to 10 matches, the best assembled in MLS this season. That stretch includes a 1-0 victory at San Jose on May 5. More recently, the Timbers also beat the Quakes 2-0 in a U.S. Open Cup fourth-round match.
Even so, Portland sit only tied for fourth in the crowded Western Conference standings, and coach Giovanni Savarese says his team can’t afford to take any match for granted.
“I believe that every game is different. There’s no game that, even if you play against the same team, that you’re going to face the same situations. So we need to prepare,” Savarese said. “They’ve been getting some better results in the past few games that they’ve played, so we have to be prepared.”
Savarese is correct that San Jose (2-9-6, 12 points) have had better performances of late, although that’s all relative.
The Quakes are still winless in their last eight matches, and with 12 points in 17 matches have earned the fewest points per match of any MLS club. They currently sit last in the Western Conference, 11 points out of the sixth and final playoff spot.
But San Jose has at least drawn each of its past three matches, including a stirring comeback from two goals down to earn a 3-3 tie against the rival LA Galaxy at Stanford Stadium on Saturday night.
And compared to other games, coach Mikael Stahre felt his team was worthy of victory after Chris Wondolowski scored twice and struck the post on a late opportunity against the Galaxy.
“I’m pleased with the comeback for sure. But of course we were also really close to scoring in the last minute,” Stahre said afterward. “I think we deserved better this evening.”
—Field Level Media