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San Jose Earthquakes vs. Portland Timbers | 2017 MLS Match Preview

 San Jose Earthquakes vs. Portland Timbers
2017 MLS Match Preview
Avaya Stadium – San Jose, California
Saturday, May 6 – 10:30 pm ET

The San Jose Earthquakes return home after a three-game road swing that turned out surprisingly fruitful, as they picked up four points, against New England and Minnesota. It's the type of gritty showing that could prove to be a way of getting the Quakes' season back on track, after a hot start followed by a month of increasingly sputtering results.

But San Jose's task won't necessarily get any easier, as the Portland Timbers come to town looking for a good road win of their own. Sitting in second place in the Western Conference at present, the Timbers have a winning record on the road so far this year (2-1-1) and have to feel pretty good about their chance at Avaya Stadium. The X factor? It might be the venue itself, where the Quakes are unbeaten (2-0-2) this season.

San Jose Earthquakes

One aspect of a Dom Kinnear-coached side that has led to success over the years is attention paid to set pieces. It was a goal scored off a corner kick by Florian Jungwirth in the second half that led to the Quakes' win against Minnesota United last week.

“A great ball by Jahmir [Hyka],” Chris Wondolowski, who helped set up the goal, said postgame to The Mercury News. “I kind of saw it late and wasn’t able to get a lot on it, so I just tried to put it back across to the far post. I’m really glad Flo was there to finish it. Great run by him.”

Running up against the scrappy set piece ability of the Earthquakes is the Timbers defense. To their credit, the backline, which has been in flux at various points so far this season due to injuries, has played better than most pundits would have expected. That said, while the first-choice defense appears to be rounding into some form together, they've only notched one shutout this season, and that was in Week 2. Even if San Jose struggle to generate good scoring chances in the run of play, they'll have to like their opportunities on dead ball situations against the Timbers defense.

  • Suspended: NONE
  • Int’l Duty: NONE
  • Injury Report: OUT – F Quincy Amarikwa (torn ACL), D - Marvell Wynne (heart), M - Marc Pelosi (knee), D - Harold Cummings (leg surgery); QUESTIONABLE – M - Shea Salinas (knee), M - Simon Dawkins (knee)

Projected starting lineup (4-4-2): David Bingham (GK) - Nick Lima, Florian Jungwirth, Victor Bernardez, Shaun Francis - Cordell Cato, Anibal Godoy, Fatai Alashe, Jahmir Hyka - Danny Hoesen, Chris Wondolowski

Notes: San Jose are unbeaten in their last six MLS home games (3W-3D), but have only outscored the opposition 8-5 across that run...Jahmir Hyka created five chances for San Jose last weekend, tied for the most of any player in the league over the course of the weekend.

Portland Timbers

Is Diego Valeri available to play? That's the big question coming out of the Timbers camp, with Portland head coach Caleb Porter not providing an update on the midfield maestro's status on Wednesday after he sat out last week with a hip injury. A good case can be made that Valeri is the MLS MVP frontrunner at present, and so if his injury lingers, it would almost certainly hurt the Timbers.

Except for one thing: Sebastian Blanco stepped into the No. 10 role against Dallas last week, and acquitted himself well, scoring a goal in the road draw against a stingy Dallas defense.

“It was tough, obviously, to replace a player like Diego, not only because of what he means football-wise but also what he means for the team off the field,” Blanco said postgame in Dallas. “For me, it was a great responsibility. Luckily, I was able to respond, I think, in a good way, scoring my first goal and helping the team as well to get a result.”

No doubt, the Timbers would rather have Valeri healthy and back, alongside Blanco on the field, sooner than later. But last week's performance likely gave Portland piece of mind that the attack would not completely fall apart if Valeri is unable to play.

  • Suspended: NONE
  • Int’l Duty: NONE
  • Injury Report: OUT – D - Gbenga Arokoyo (Achilles), QUESTIONABLE: M - Diego Valeri (hip), M - Darlington Nagbe (lower body injury), M - Ben Zemanski (adductor)

Projected starting XI (4-2-3-1): Jake Gleeson (GK) — Alvas Powell, Lawrence Olum, Liam Ridgewell, Vytas Andriuskevicius — Diego Chara, David Guzman — Dairon Asprilla, Sebastian Blanco, Darren Mattocks — Fanendo Adi

Notes: The Timbers have scored seven goals in their last three away matches (1W-1L- 1D). They had only scored five goals in their previous 10 road matches (1W-7L- 2D)...Portland have scored two goals so far this year on fast breaks. They are the only team to have scored more than once in those situations, and 15 teams have yet to score from a fast break this season.

All-Time Series

  • Overall: San Jose 2 wins (16 goals), Portland 7 wins (24 goals), 7 draws
  • At San Jose: San Jose 2 wins (9 goals), Portland 1 win (8 goals), 4 draws


Referee: Nima Saghafi
Assistant Referees: Corey Rockwell, Kevin Klinger
Fourth Official: Ricardo Salazar