PORTLAND, Ore. – Chris Wondolowski tied the MLS single-season goal scoring record, but he didn’t beat it.
The Portland Timbers played the San Jose Earthquakes, the team with MLS’ best record, to a 1-1 draw, but they didn’t lose.
Not the perfect game Saturday at JELD-WEN Field for the hosts, but not the worst either, right?
Don’t tell that to Timbers defender David Horst. In no way was it a moral victory for the bruising defender whose task was to stop the league’s top forward. Not even the fact that Wondolowski notched his 27th goal on a PK brought him any solace.
“It doesn’t make me feel better at all,” Horst said. “I didn’t want Wondo to tie the record. I didn’t want him to beat it.”
Horst did say there was the feeling in the Timbers locker room that Wondolowski’s shot at history may have been out of the hands of the players on the field.
“We kind of had an inkling coming into the game that there would be some type of phantom PK call,” Horst said.
Replays, however, showed goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts clearly taking down Earthquakes forward Steven Lenhart.
“You get a feeling that sometimes, with the way things have gone this year, with some of the bad calls have gone against us, and it happened again tonight,” Horst said, unmoved. “But you live and learn and move on.”
What did make Horst feel good was how the Timbers responded after Wondolowski’s goal. The defense clamped down and the attack eventually found the equalizer.
“I think the guys did a great job, though, from there on out,” Horst said. “They didn’t have too many chances after that. I thought the guys did a great job on [Wondolowski]. It says a lot about our character. There was a point this season when we’d get scored on and kind of shut down, and we were out of it the rest of the game.”
The way in which Portland stood up to San Jose, finishing the three-game series against the Supporters’ Shield winners with two draws and a win, had Timbers players and interim head coach/general manager Gavin Wilkinson talking about optimistic about 2013. The Timbers ended an ultimately disappointing season having lost just once in their final four games and with a Cascadia Cup-clinching victory last Sunday at Vancouver.
“This team is not really far off, and hopefully this year we can grind out better results against other teams as well,” said forward Bright Dike, whose goal midway through the second half led to the draw.
After the game Dike’s log slice was awarded, and Timbers players paraded around the pitch holding a sign that read, “To the league’s best fans, we will repay you.”
“We honestly think that our fans are the best in the country,” Wilkinson said. “They’re absolutely phenomenal, and we will repay them. It’s something that true fans stick with organizations through tough times, and they’ve been tremendous.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.