The Portland Timbers looked outclassed for large stretches of their match against the New York Red Bulls this afternoon, but they still managed to come out the 2-1 victors thanks to a pair of goals from Argentine striker Maximiliano Urruti.
The Timbers' first half had its bright spots, but they were fewr and far between as the team struggled against New York. Having difficulty defending or holding the ball, the Timbers gave up chance after chance to the moderate pressure from New York's attackers.
Although the Timbers did manage to scramble and put out fire after fire, eventually their lax play on the ball came back to bite them in the 36'. Following a poor give away on the edge of the Timbers' box, Thierry Henry dusted off some of his classic moves, pushing the ball around his defender and slipping a quick ball into the box for Lloyd Sam. The Timbers looked to be safe with Pa Modou Kah firmly attached to Sam's back, poking the ball away with a well placed boot. The contact with the ball was not enough for the referee to forgive Kah's arm wrapped around Sam's waist, dragging him down as the ball bounced away.
Bradley Wright-Phillips, the second leading scorer in the league with nine goals coming into today, stepped up to the line for the Red Bulls. Calmly, Wright-Phillips sent Donovan Ricketts the wrong way, placing the ball into the bottom corner of the net to open the scoring and put the Red Bulls up 1-0.
The remainder of the half did not look promising for the Timbers until they somehow managed to pull one back in the final minute of first half stoppage time. With the Timbers breaking down the pitch following yet another snuffed out Red Bulls attack, Steve Zakuani found Urruti in the center of the pitch. Holding up the ball while the rest of the Timbers pushed forward, Urruti looked up and fired off a shot on goal. The ball deflected off the back of a Red Bulls defender, slipping just inside the near-post around the already airborne Louis Robles. With the score now leveled at one a-piece, the Timbers went into the half with a decided feeling that the game was not out of reach.
When the second half opened the Timbers came out looking like a new team. The defensive shakiness was gone as the Timbers looked to lock down the Red Bulls attack that had seemed so potent in the first half. Both teams pressed forward, but the Timbers' renewed vigor clearly had the Red Bulls back on their heels. Neither team looked like scoring, but the Timbers no longer looked like they would be going home pointless.
In the 74', however, the Timbers managed to break through. Streaking down the left flank, Jorge Villafana played a hard, waist level cross into the New York box. However, the ball was cut out by an outstretched foot from a Red Bulls defender, bouncing off his hand in the process. While several players turned to the referee in an appeal for a hand ball, Urruti was once again on the spot, doing exactly what a player should in that situation: playing to the whistle. As the ball bounced to him, Urruti took the measure of Robles and hit the ball low and hard to the back post, burying it in the side netting and putting the Timbers up 2-1 with what would turn out to be the game-winning goal.
Having gotten their first road win of the season, their second win overall, the Timbers move into sixth place in the Western Conference, ahead of the three California teams: Chivas USA, the LA Galaxy, and the San Jose Earthquakes.