All the Timbers need to win is an Army

Portland's home field edge comes through Tuesday in 2-1 win
July 3, 2012 / By Mike Donovan, oregonsports.com

In just a season-and-a-half, Jeld-Wen Field has quickly become the place where the top of MLS heap is cut down to size.

Tuesday night marked the fourth time in the club’s MLS history that the Portland Timbers took on the MLS leader at Jeld-Wen Field. And for the fourth straight time, it was the home fans who went home happy as Portland knocked off the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 in front of another sellout crowd.

In his first start in Portland since being traded to the Timbers, former Jefferson High School star Danny Mwanga gave the Timbers the lead in the 29th minute on a marvelous counterattack. It took just 12 seconds for Franck Songo’o to steal the ball from San Jose’s Rafael Baca on the edge of the Timbers penalty area, have a give-and-go with Eric Alexander and then pass the ball to a cutting Mwanga.

The goal came directly in front of the Timbers Army and sent the crowd into a bedlam. Coming off their worst loss of the season, Mwanga’s goal seemed to give an extra boost of energy to the Timbers.

For the 9th time in 2012, San Jose conceded the opening goal. But that might have been a good omen for the club, due to their 4-2-3 mark in those games. The comeback kids could not match the Timbers in front of their home fans.

Jack Jewsbury’s first goal of the season gave the club a 2-0 just before the 60-minute mark. Former Timber Alan Gordon got one back for the Quakes in the 74th minute but they were unable to get a shot on target after the goal.

Despite playing their worst game of the season just 72 hours earlier, the crowd was as loud as ever. Something that was not lost on head coach John Spencer.

“I think it’s easy to get up for games here. The passion and the energy in this stadium was tremendous. Felt it from the first whistle,” Spencer said postmatch.

The game was the 26th the Timbers have played at Jeld-Wen since their ascent to the MLS. Tuesday’s victory runs Portland’s record in those games to 14-7-5. Jewsbury says the fans play a direct part in the Timbers home success.

“With the fans and the energy they create, it makes it a bit easier for us and in that sense its great to play here, “ said Jewsbury, who scored for the first time in his last 25 games Tuesday.

But the Timbers know that their home dominance will mean little without getting results on the road. Portland has just two points from their seven road matches this season.
“Now, it’s a matter of us creating the same amount of energy for ourselves when we don’t have the fans there on the road,” Jewsbury said.

John Spencer, however, had a different idea on how to replicate the Jeld-Wen atmosphere for Saturday’s game at Real Salt Lake. When asked how the Timbers can play with the same fire this weekend in Utah, Spencer put his owner Merritt Paulson on the hook.

“I think our owner has planned to send 15,000 people, free of charge to Salt Lake next Saturday,” Spencer said, with a wry smile on his face.
The victory kept one of the more unusual streaks alive for Portland. The Timbers move to 4-0-1 in their last five home games playing under a full moon extending back to the USL era. Portland will play one more game at Jeld-Wen under a full moon this season on August 31 against the Colorado Rapids.

Full Moon or not, it is getting harder to deny what a homefield advantage Jeld-Wen Field has become.

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