PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers certainly don’t make it easy on themselves.
After falling behind 2-0 and then 3-2 to the San Jose Earthquakes on steamy Sunday afternoon at Providence Park, goals by defenders Alvas Powell, Liam Ridgewell and second-half substitute Kalif Alhassan helped Portland rescue a point and stay in the fifth and final Western Conference playoff spot with a wild 3-3 draw.
Goals by Chris Wondolowski and Cordell Cato on either side of halftime put the Quakes up 2-0, and another Wondo goal in the 85th minute gave them a 3-2 lead, shell shocking a Timbers side that dominated the attack but couldn’t convert until their furious second-half rally.
The result was a blow to the Earthquakes waning playoff chances, stretching their winless streak to six games to keep them in eighth place with 27 points from 25 games. Portland hold just a one-point advantage over the Vancouver Whitecaps with 35 points from 27 games and trail fourth-place FC Dallas by seven points.
The action was hot and heavy from the opening whistle, mostly thanks to a relentless Timbers attack that fired off 19 shots – eight on target – before halftime. Portland finished with a club-record 32 shots for the game.
In the second minute, Fanendo Adi made a splitting run and skipped a pass to Gaston Fernandez on the left wing for a shot that was gobbled up by Quakes goalkeeper Jon Busch, the first of his 10 saves for the game.
In the ninth minute, Busch parried a Liam Ridgewell on-frame header off a corner kick over the bar on a quick reaction save. Timbers captain Will Johnson fired off two on-target shots in the 13th minute that both required work from Busch.
Despite all that action in San Jose’s half, the Quakes were the ones to strike first when Shea Salinas split two defenders on the left wing for a clear look at goal in the 21st minute. Timbers’ keeper Donovan Ricketts saved his first shot, before Salinas collected the rebound and fired off another shot that banged off the goalpost straight to Wondolowski for the easy tap-in.
San Jose nearly doubled their lead in the 36th minute, despite getting off just six shots in the first half, when Salinas made another slicing run from the left wing and crossed to a wide-open Sam Cronin, who blasted his shot just over the bar.
San Jose was opportunistic again when, in the 48th minute, Cato crossed to Salinas in the box. Timbers center back Pa Modou Kah’s clearance attempt in the direction of Ridgewell fell right back to Cato for an easy goal.
Portland’s assault was finally rewarded in the 54th minute when Valeri chipped a perfect ball down the right to Powell, who brushed off two defenders and popped a shot into the top, far corner.
Portland tied it largely thanks to another brilliant feed by Valeri in the 75thminute. The Argentine attacker sent a cross across the goalmouth that Alhassan was unable to get to but was bundled across by Ridgewell.
But San Jose didn’t go away, inexplicably retaking the lead in the 85thminute when Salinas floated a long cross in to an unmarked Wondolowski, who easily nodded past a flummoxed Ricketts.
Portland, however, would not be denied, and a minute later Powell played back to Alhassan for the game-tying goal.
San Jose stay in the Pacific Northwest for their next match, a Wednesday meeting with the Vancouver Whitecaps. Portland are back in action Saturday for an away showdown with the Colorado Rapids.