PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Earthquakes' three-game winning streak ended Tuesday night at Jeld-Wen Field as the struggling Portland Timbers built a two-goal lead and held on for a 2-1 victory.
"Tonight just wasn't our night," coach Frank Yallop said. "We gave balls away early in the game, which is really not like us."
The Earthquakes (11-4-3) entered the game atop the Western Conference and held a four-point cushion over Real Salt Lake, but they couldn't find their footing against the Timbers, who won for just the second time in five games. Despite dominating the time of possession (57 percent to 43), the Quakes managed three fewer shots on goal (19-16).
"We really finished well, but that second goal kind of killed us a little bit," Yallop said.
Portland (5-2-2 home) jumped out to a first-half lead when former No. 1 draft pick Danny Mwanga took a pass from Franck Songo'o and found the net in the 29th minute. Songo'o had bolted up the right flank after two chances by the Quakes failed when Rafael Baca's and Chris Wondolowski's shots went astray.
Yallop said that while Mwanga is capable of hurting any team if given the chance, the Quakes should have halted the play much earlier.
"We should have committed a foul before it got to that point," the coach said.
Mwanga's goal found the right corner past goalkeeper David Bingham, who was making his second start of the season in place of injured Jon Busch. Busch suffered a swollen
Portland's play seemed to match the intensity of the "Timbers Army," the group that creates a raucous atmosphere at Jeld-Wen Field.
"Their team fed off their crowd's energy," Quakes defender Justin Morrow said. "We kind of took the game for granted in the first half."
Morrow said the loss makes the team realize it needs to be ready from the opening whistle.
"We have to come out hard," he said.
The Timbers took a 2-0 lead early in the second half when Jack Jewsbury corralled a loose ball and nudged it into an open net.
While there was some complaint about the goal, Yallop said it's a lesson for Bingham -- "Don't put it in (the) ref's hands," the coach said.
Second-half substitute Marvin Chavez helped bring the Quakes within striking distance in the 71st minute, finding Alan Gordon, who walloped home his sixth goal of the season.
But it was the last of the scoring as the Quakes were unable to build any momentum and were kept off balance by the Timbers' defense. The script was an unfamiliar one for the first-place Quakes, who came into the contest with a 6-2-1 road record and boasted five come-from-behind victories.
The league's leading goal scorer, Wondolowski was unable to get many good looks on goal and perhaps out of frustration garnered a yellow card in the 77th minute for his takedown of Mwanga.