PORTLAND, Ore. – The “Old Salty Dog” has struck again.
That would be Jack Jewsbury. The Portland Timbers veteran – lovingly given the aforementioned nickname by head coach Caleb Porter – sent his team off into a hot Portland night with an astonishing stoppage-time goal in their 1-0 victory Sunday over the San Jose Earthquakes at always-lively Providence Park. The wily chip at the back post from a tough baseline angle, following a corner-kick scrum, kept the Timbers’ feel-good summer alive and well with their sixth win in their last seven league matches – with five straight victories at home.
Two of them are thanks solely to Jewsbury, who also nabbed a stoppage-time winner in a 2-1 road victory May 30 over the Colorado Rapids.
“Old Salty Dog,” Porter said in his postgame comments. “He’s making little plays like that. You need that; good teams have that, guys that step up at different times, and you don’t know who it’s going to be. And one of the things I told the guys after the game is, teams that find a way to win games, those are the teams that end up doing special things. And we’ve got that going right now.”
The winner was especially sweet due to the eventful and sometimes controversial 90 minutes of action that proceeded.
Two apparent hand balls in the box – by each team – went uncalled. Portland had two goals called back for being offside, including what was initially celebrated as the game winner on a Gaston Fernandez header in the 87th minute. The Timbers peppered San Jose’s net with 23 shots – seven on goal – on the night.
“It was a bit of a frustrating game for us as we were on the front foot the whole game, didn’t get it, thought we had it with Gaston, but I guess it was offside,” Jewsbury said. “But anyway, we kept pushing, and it was nice to get the three points in another home game.”
For Porter, it was just reward from a game that saw San Jose – missing their leading goal-scorer Chris Wondolowski to US national team duty for the Gold Cup and the injured Matias Perez Garcia – sit back most of the night. The Earthquakes managed just seven shots – two on target – all night in what was a physical, direct game from the visitors.
“We knew exactly what the game was going to be like, and it played out exactly the way we thought,” Porter said. “We knew it was going to come down to us trying to break them down. We knew they are a very good back four, extremely disciplined, organized, physical, strong.
“They showed that today. You have to credit them. I don’t necessarily like the way they played, but you’ve got to credit the players in the back. They were outstanding.”
And to get another stoppage-time winner, this time in front of their home crowd, well, that creates momentum you can’t manufacture, Porter said.
“This team, like I said, it’s great to see,” Porter said. “There’s a lot of belief, a lot of confidence, a lot of hunger, and for me there’s somewhat of an aura building that we can find a way to win games, even when you don’t quite think it’s going to happen – Colorado, case and point, and this game case and point.
“We’ve left these games a little late but found a way to win. And that’s huge for our confidence.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.