Portland Timbers have no qualms with referee, chalk loss up to missed chances

Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter didn’t have a lot of blame to place on the referee for rewarding the San Jose Earthquakes a penalty kick that led to the first goal in a 2-1 loss for his team Saturday evening at Buck Shaw Stadium.

He didn’t blame the loss on a poor performance by his players, either. He didn’t say his side was outplayed.

For Porter, there really wasn’t a whole lot to say other than the Earthquakes really needed three points, and the Timbers lost a tough game on the road against a Western Conference opponent.

“We weren’t as far off in the performance as it might seem,” Porter said. “So we’ll keep it in perspective. We certainly had plenty of chances in the game. In my opinion we had far more quality chances than they did. But that’s soccer.”

If there is a point in the game to shine the spotlight, it was a 10-minute period after the halftime break when San Jose did well to take advantage of their chances.

A 55th-minute penalty kick was awarded to the Earthquakes after Shea Salinas collided with Portland center back Andrew Jean-Baptiste right at the edge of the penalty area. San Jose defender Victor Bernadez calmly converted past Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts for the game’s first goal.

“I think it was a foul,” Porter said. “I’d like to watch the tape, I’m not sure if it was in the box or right on the edge of the box. That’s one that could go either way. A lot of refs would call it out of the box, some would call it in, but in the end I think it was a foul, sure. We can’t give the ball away in a bad spot.”

Three minutes later, Earthquakes enigmatic striker Steven Lenhart inexplicably snuck behind the Timbers defense on a set piece for a sliding goal to give the Earthquakes a 2-0 lead.

“On the defensive side we had a few lapses,” Porter said. “We gave away a counter attack, didn’t do a good job on the damage control and gave away a penalty kick. And then on the set piece, we weren’t focused and they played a quick restart and we got punished.”

But from the moment Portland went down 2-0, they effectively dominated the run of play.

Darlington Nagbe pulled one back in the 83rd minute, highlighting a dominant stretch for the Timbers in the closing minutes – aided by the ejection of Quakes winger Marvin Chavez when he was shown two quick yellows in the 85th minute.

For the game, Portland held a hefty possession advantage and outshot San Jose 20-14.

“What went well is that we had a ton of chances to score goals and it’s always positive when you’re creating those chances,” Portland defender Michael Harrington said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t sharp with those chances and didn’t take advantage of it. We didn’t stick the ball in the back of the net.”

Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.