Victor Bernardez and Steven Lenhart scored three minutes apart on Saturday as the 10-man San Jose Earthquakes held on for a 2-1 victory over the Portland Timbers at Buck Shaw Stadium.
The 'Quakes came into the key Western Conference clash with some positive momentum following last week's 1-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders, and they had several scoring opportunities early on.
But Portland, which had only lost twice prior to Saturday, went toe-to-toe with San Jose for chances and had a golden opportunity to strike right at the end of the first half.
With time winding down in the opening 45 minutes, Portland captain Will Johnson ran onto an aerial pass over the top and volleyed it on frame, but San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch made a diving save to send the sides into the break scoreless.
San Jose midfielder Shea Salinas made something positive happen for his team in the 53rd minute when he used some fancy footwork to get into the Portland penalty area before being dragged down by Portland defender Andrew Jean- Baptiste, resulting in a spot kick.
Bernardez stepped up and calmly sent Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts the wrong way for his first goal of the season.
Just minutes later, Salinas played facilitator again as he floated a nice ball over the top for Lenhart, who touched it home first time to make it a two-goal margin for the hosts.
But the drama went up a notch late on when Portland pulled one back through Darlington Nagbe's sixth goal of the season in the 83rd minute, and a couple minutes later, San Jose midfielder Marvin Chavez was sent off, reducing the 'Quakes to 10 men.
The Timbers sent numbers forward with the extra man in search of a late equalizer, but it never materialized and the Earthquakes held on for an important three points.