Portland Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese expects “another battle” when the out-of-form San Jose Earthquakes visit Saturday.
The Timbers are eighth in the Western Conference after a six-game unbeaten run, most recently snatching a 1-1 draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Portland will have home comforts at Providence Park in their next outing, and Savarese expects a tough test.
“At home we always want to get three points, but we know every game is different and tough,” he said. “Credit to Vancouver last game, they had a plan and it took us a while to get through.”
“Another difficult game against San Jose, another team with a mindset to make it difficult, but we have prepared very well. The mentality has been good. We know that is going to be a battle.”
The Quakes are near the bottom of the Western Conference and have gone winless in their last two games, and general manager Chris Leitch appreciates a permanent appointment is soon needed with Alex Covelo in interim charge.
“Just to talk about the current interim staff in place right now, I think these guys have done a very good job.” Leitch said. “I haven’t done the calculations after (Sunday’s) loss to Houston Dynamo. If you do the run rate at the beginning of the season, that would put us third in the West, I think sixth overall in the (MLS) table.
“We’re going to be committed to making the playoffs until mathematically we’re out of them, full stop. Obviously, because of the first seven games and only getting three out of 21 points, it’s going to be a heavy lift for us to make that charge. But again, this club never says die.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Portland Timbers – Jaroslaw Niezgoda
Niezgoda has been the star up top for the Timbers this campaign, leading the charts with seven goals in 17 MLS appearances.
San Jose Earthquakes – Jeremy Ebobisse
Ebobisse will pose the biggest threat to Portland, having scored the most goals for San Jose in MLS this season (11).
KEY OPTA FACTS
– The Earthquakes ended a seven-match winless run against the Timbers (D2 L5) with a 3-2 home win on May 18. Still, Portland is undefeated at home against San Jose in 15 all-time matches (W11 D4), the most home games played by one team against another without ever losing in MLS history.
– The Timbers’ unbeaten run reached six consecutive games (W3 D3) with a 1-1 draw against the Whitecaps on Sunday. Prior to this run, Portland hadn’t managed to go more than three straight games without a loss this season.
– The Earthquakes won their last away match, a 3-2 victory at the LA Galaxy on July 13, to end a nine-match winless run on the road (D3 L6). San Jose hasn’t won consecutive away matches in three years, since victories at the Galaxy and another Cascadia team, Vancouver, in July 2019.
– Portland’s equalizer against Vancouver on Sunday came from the penalty spot, the fifth straight game the Timbers had scored from the spot. Prior to this streak, no team in MLS history had scored a penalty in more than three straight games.
– There have been a total of 27 set piece goals scored in matches involving the Earthquakes this season, with San Jose tied for the most set piece goals scored in the league (13 w/LAFC, NYCFC) and conceding the second most (14, behind only D.C. United – 15).