One moment of quality from the Canadian international made the difference as Portland got all three points from the 10-man Earthquakes.
The game was a tense affair, with San Jose allowing the home side much of the ball and neither goalkeeper bothered much by ineffective attacks in front of them.
With 20 minutes to play, San Jose's task was made tougher when Alan Gordon was sent off for a second yellow. Replays showed the forward catch Mikael Silvestre with a flying elbow while going up for a header, leaving the Frenchman with a bloody mouth.
Buoyed by their advantage, the Timbers pushed forward and grabbed the game's only goal with a moment of true quality in a match that had been lacking it. Will Johnson curled a fantastic 25-yard free kick up and over the Earthquake wall which flew into the far corner, giving Jon Busch no chance.