And that’s how the ball bounces.
The San Jose Earthquakes fell to the Portland Timbers 3-1 on Saturday night, snapping a three-game unbeaten streak, despite largely controlling the flow of the match. At the final whistle, the Quakes held 62.9% of the possession, but couldn’t convert time on the ball into goals. Despite replacing five of the 11 starters from Wednesday night’s victory, the team played an excellent brand of soccer.
Head coach Dominic Kinnear was tasked with keeping his players fresh and healthy through this three-game-in-eight-day stretch.
“Well we had three games in a week with travel,” explained Kinnear during his postgame press conference. “Just giving guys some rest. We have a good squad I think. Guys can play. I thought they did fine. It all depends on how it helps the squad. You can only rotate if your group is healthy.
“We all face our injury problems and we have that as well. I wouldn’t rotate the squad if I didn’t think the players were good enough and I think the players have shown enough to me over the course of the season to deserve to play and that’s the reason we rotate. We try to keep guys fresh. We’re seven games in and for me to get greedy and to put guys in the way of getting injured for the long-term is a bit silly. Knowing I can [rotate] and the standard doesn’t drop all that much, if it drops at all, is a comfort.”
San Jose could have easily taken a lead into the break at halftime, but couldn’t capitalize on any of their first-half chances. As the Quakes pushed on in the second half in search of three points, they made themselves vulnerable for a counter-attack and Portland took advantage.
“We’re throwing everything forward. We played some real good stuff in the first half. Great possession, great movement, some good looks at goal. Would have been nice if they’d gone in with a little bit of a lead. Think we probably deserved that, but sometimes you don’t always get what you deserve.
“I thought we played good in the second half too. Just gave up some goals. The first goal was, we lost a couple challenges that were important challenges and they broke through and scored.”
Down 2-0, the Quakes didn’t lie down, however, as Chris Wondolowski pulled a goal back one minute into stoppage time by converting his first penalty kick of the season.
“To be honest, when Wondo scored the penalty kick I thought for sure we’re going to get a point out of the game,” said midfielder Shea Salinas. “I thought we were going to score that second goal and tie it up. We were just so close on so many crosses.”
Given eight minutes of stoppage time, San Jose scratched and clawed and came close to burying the equalizer. But as the Quakes committed numbers forward in desperation, the Timbers cashed in on an odd-man rush to put the game out of reach.
“I think that we played well, but we made some mistakes that cost us the game,” explained defender Andres Imperiale. “We need to move on now. We need to think of rest for a few days after a tough week and move on and look at the next game at home against a difficult team like Sporting Kansas City.”
San Jose returns to Avaya Stadium to face Sporting KC on Sunday, April 24, presented by the County of Santa Clara Household Hazardous Waste Program. The match kicks off at 12:30 p.m. PT and will be broadcast live on ESPN, 1590 KLIV and 1370 KZSF.