MLB

Portland Timbers v San Jose Earthquakes: 'No time for sulking' – Neville calls on struggling hosts to respond

By Sports Desk May 14, 2024

Phil Neville warned Portland Timbers have "no time for sulking" as the head coach offered an eye-opening appraisal of his side's struggles ahead of their MLS meeting with San Jose Earthquakes.

The Timbers are winless in a club-record nine straight matches after their 2-1 defeat to Seattle Sounders on Saturday.

Portland sit bottom of the Western Conference table and former Inter Miami boss Neville acknowledged the Timbers must improve – and rapidly.

"Massively disappointed, the result in these games is the most important thing," Neville said, looking back at the Seattle loss.

"I have to take full responsibility for this run, in life you get difficult moments and we have to really work hard; make sacrifices – that is the message for the players.

"There's no time for sulking, any criticism that comes our way has to be aimed at me. I select the team, the system, the tactics over the last nine games.

"We've got to be better, but I am absolutely convinced we are going to get this right.

"We've got to go out fighting, the results have to change very quickly. I am under no illusions about that."

The Quakes are just a position above the Timbers but overcame Colorado Rapids 3-2 in their last outing, suggesting to coach Luchi Gonzalez that his side are starting to click into gear.

"We had quite a bit of new additions to the team," he explained. "They're good players and they need time to adapt to this league.

"They're showing more confidence and showing how they can adapt to this league.

"We need to support them. We need to on and off the field know that with more time, this group can compete with anybody in the league."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Portland Timbers – Evander

Evander remains Neville's go-to man, having scored four and assisted three in just eight league appearances this year.

The Brazilian leads the Timbers for goal contributions in MLS this term, and Neville will hope his star man can deliver once more here.

San Jose Earthquakes – Hernan Lopez

Hernan Lopez was one player referenced by Gonzalez as needing time to find comfort in his new surroundings.

The Quakes man did just that on his first MLS start, scoring to overturn a two-goal deficit against Colorado.

MATCH PREDICTION – PORTLAND TIMBERS WIN

Portland are the overwhelming favourites for victory here, going unbeaten in 20 straight home matches against San Jose in all competitions (W16 D4) – dating back to September 2011.

That is the Timbers' second-longest home unbeaten run by one MLS team against another in all competitions, with this a chance to extend that impressive run.

Yet it will be by no means one-way traffic, considering Portland made it a club-record nine straight regular-season matches without a win (D3 L6), including three straight losses, with defeat to Seattle.

San Jose have also won three straight matches in all competitions for the first time in three years, setting this up for an enticing clash.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Portland Timbers win – 55.8%

San Jose Earthquakes win – 19.6%

Draw – 24.6%

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