SAN JOSE, Calif. – On Sunday, the Portland Timbers lost their first MLS game since Oct. 3. And the defending champions have to try to rebound from that defeat without their captain.
Liam Ridgewell, one of the foundations of Portland’s backline, is expected to miss “anywhere from four to six weeks,” head coach Caleb Porter told reporters after the Timbers lost 2-1 to San Jose on Sunday night.
The defeat ended Portland’s 10-match unbeaten run in league play – including the Timbers’ successful march to the 2015 MLS Cup.
Ridgewell, who missed only two matches last year, was hurt on Friday, giving Portland little time to juggle their backline, which was already shorthanded due to injuries to Chris Klute and Andy Thoma. Zarek Valentin made his Timbers debut at left back and Jermaine Taylor, another newcomer to Portland this season, slid inside to pair with Nat Borchers.
“It’s never nice,” Porter said of losing Ridgewell. “You never like it. We prepared all week to deal with the way San Jose is going to play … they’re very effective getting the ball wide and getting crosses in. We trained all week with Ridgy in there with Nat, the same way we played last week, and the last prep day, at the end of training, he goes down. So now we shift, and we don’t get a ton of time to work on that. But like I told the guys, it’s a reminder: You have to be ready and stay ready because these things happen.”
Taylor was beaten on San Jose’s first goal, coming up a step too slow to intervene when Chris Wondolowski turned in a cross from Anibal Godoy at the near post in the 30th minute. He was also one of three Timbers who could not catch up to the marauding run of Quincy Amarikwa, although it was hard for Porter to find much fault with what turned out to be a spectacular solo effort from the Quakes striker.
Nevertheless, the game might have had a radically different trajectory if Lucas Melano’s sixth-minute attempt hadn’t rebounded off the crossbar or Diego Valeri’s shot six minutes after that had snuck in at the near post.
“I think we had twice as many shots as they did on it,” Porter said of the sopping field at Avaya Stadium. “We still did enough to get a result in that game, but it’s difficult when you give up the first and second goal.”