2011 US Open Cup qualifying: Ike Opara’s dramatic 120th minute goal breaks hearts in Portland, sends Earthquakes to final qualifying round (Video)
The faithful Portland Timbers fans at JELD-WEN Field witnessed their US Open Cup hopes crash with a thud as a header from San Jose striker Ike Opara in the 120th minute gave the Earthquakes a 1-0 victory after extra time. This came after 120 minutes of action that could be reminiscent of a play. It started slowly, threw in a few twists and turns, included plenty of drama, and built to a crescendo with Opara putting on the climactic act at the finish.
Both teams came out slow to start the match. This was to be reasonably expected, as Portland hosted league stalwart Real Salt Lake just three days before, while San Jose was coming off a cross-country trip from Philadelphia. The Timbers fielded a mostly reserve squad, with the addition of starting goalkeeper Troy Perkins, having recently come back from injury. This gave the Earthquakes the early advantage, as they pressured Portland quickly.
The game would turn chippy soon enough, as the first yellow card was issued to the Earthquakes’ Brad Ring for shoving Portland’s Spencer Thompson in the 7th minute. It was a sign of things to come. San Jose would continue pressuring throughout the first half, including a chance for Ring in the 35th minute. He received the ball just outside the 18 yard box, but sent a side volley over the crossbar. Not to say the Timbers didn’t have chances of their own. In the 38th minute, Steve Purdy headed a corner kick towards goal, only to see it finger-tipped away by Earthquakes goalkeeper Andrew Weber.
The second half started with the Quakes coming back to life for a few minutes, but nothing would come of their efforts. Portland slowly turned the tables, and by the 60th minute had full control. At that point, Thompson received a chip inside the box, but couldn’t quite redirect the ball towards the net, sending it high and wide. Soon after began the fouling of Timbers player Sal Zizzo. Whether the fouls he suffered throughout the game were card-worthy or not, that depends on who you ask. The first yellow card earned for fouling Zizzo was shown to Ramiro Corrales in the 63rd minute.
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The teams started to warm up more, as by the 75th minute, Ryan Johnson received a pass from Chris Wondolowski inside the box and shot, but Troy Perkins was there to make a great tip over the crossbar to keep the match scoreless. The final five minutes of regulation saw both teams become energized and created an exciting few minutes. A long blast from the Timbers’ Adam Moffat was knocked down by Weber in the 86th minute. Just a couple minutes later at the other end, Bobby Convey was on a breakaway for the Earthquakes. Timbers defender Freddie Braun saved the day by bolting back and stripping the ball away in an impressive slide tackle near the top of the box. As the game entered stoppage time, Zizzo drew a second yellow card, this time to Moffat for knocking him over. The teams could not break through in regulation, invoking extra time.
Nine minutes into extra time, Zizzo was fouled yet again, this time by Steven Lenhart. After getting knocked around all match, Zizzo didn’t take kindly to it, and retaliated. However, this time no card was issued. Lenhart would make waves again in the 104th minute as he knocked the ball into the net off a Quakes free kick to the left of the box utilizing his hand. He earned himself a yellow card for his efforts. The final yellow card of the match earned during the run of play was given to Timbers midfielder James Marcelin for taking down Lenhart from behind in the 117th minute.
As the game approached the end of extra time, the Quakes bore down and took care of business. With the ball bouncing in and out of the box, Sam Cronin crossed it back in to find Ike Opara, who headed it home in the 120th minute. He too, however, would earn a yellow card after removing his jersey in celebration. Portland would pressure with every second they had left, culminating with an effort by Thompson at the top of the box in the 3rd minute of stoppage time, which harmlessly sailed over the goal.
With the win, the San Jose Earthquakes improved their record in all US Open Cup-related matches against the Portland Timbers to 3-0 (also having defeated them in the tournament proper in 2004 and 2005 when the Timbers were members of the second division). They advance to the third qualifying round, where they are scheduled to host a “Win and You’re In” match against the Chicago Fire. The date, time, and location is still to be determined. The loss by the Timbers was their first at JELD-WEN Field this season, and they will not compete in the tournament proper for the first time since 2003.
2011 US Open Cup qualifying (MLS)
San Jose Earthquakes 1:0 (AET) Portland Timbers
May 3, 2011 – JELD-WEN Field (Portland, Ore.)
SJE: Ike Opara (Sam Cronin) – 120th minute
SJE: Brad Ring (caution) – 7th minute
POR: Ryan Pore (caution) – 50th minute
SJE: Ramiro Corrales (caution) – 62nd minute
SJE: Sam Cronin (caution) – 80th minute
SJE: Ryan Johnson (caution) – 91st minute+
SJE: Steven Lenhart (caution) – 104th minute
POR: James Marcelin (caution) – 114th minute
SJE: Ike Opara (caution) – 120th minute
Portland Timbers: Troy Perkins (GK), Freddie Braun, Kevin Goldthwaite (Mamadou Danso – 98th), David Horst, Steve Purdy, Sal Zizzo (Darlington Nagbe – 111th), James Marcelin, Adam Moffat, Rodrigo Lopez (Jeremy Hall – 110th), Ryan Pore, Spencer Thompson.
San Jose Earthquakes: Andrew Weber, Steven Beitashour, Bobby Burling, Ike Opara, Ramiro Corrales, Khari Stephenson (Steven Lenhart – 83rd), Sam Cronin, Brad Ring, Bobby Convey (Justin Morrow – 94th), Ryan Johnson (Ellis McLoughlin – 111th), Chris Wondolowski.
SJE: Shots: 9; Shots on Goal: 4; Saves: 3; Fouls: 23; Offsides: 0; Corners: 7.
POR: Shots: 8; Shots on Goal: 3; Saves: 3; Fouls: 22; Offsides: 2; Corners: 6.