This was a game of two halves but thankfully the Portland Timbers scored in both. Unbeaten in their last 5 with 2 wins this could be the start of a good mid season streak that will propel the Timbers above the red line for good.
Opening Whistle-45': From the opening whistle the New York Red Bulls were on a mission to push the pace and not allow Portland to settle into any offensive rhythm. They pressed and forced the Timbers backline to play long balls to a non target forward. They used Thierry Henry as a playmaker. Henry dropped into the midfield and had enough time on the ball to pick his spots and release teammates. He was the best player on the field and Portland let him have the time and space to do whatever he wanted. Henry's vision put Portland in a bad position on the PK call and could have resulted in even more goals conceded if it wasn't for a forgiving post that rejected a ball.
The Red Bulls high pressure and midfield presence snuffed out any chance Portland had of play a possession game and the only chances Portland did have came on a counter or after a quick transition. However Portland's counter was lacking some teeth and did not create any solid chances until the final minute of the half. Maximiliano Urruti's willingness to shoot from outside the box helped draw the Timbers even after forcing a turnover in the Red Bulls' half.
Restart-75': The Portland Timbers came out of after halftime with a more determination and some tweaks from Caleb Porter. Instead of allowing Henry to have free rein just in front of the Timbers' backline they had Ben Zemanski play a deeper position and shadow him so that he cannot get the second or third touch needed to play the balls he was playing. The Timbers also played a higher line of pressure and did not allow the direct attacking passes from the central midfield players to Henry and Bradley Wright- Phillips. With the Red Bulls attack corralled Portland could focus on possessing the ball for longer periods of time and to find the holes in the Red Bulls defense.
As the possession and momentum started to swing Portland's way the field felt like it had more of a tilt towards Luis Robles' goal. There were still times it felt like Portland could collapse and give up a devastating goal but they persisted and finally fought through all of the bad luck the Soccer Gods have thrown at them this year and earned the go ahead goal after fighting back all of these games.
76'-Final Whistle: After netting the go ahead goal the Timbers tried to manage the game, something that has not happened yet this season, and picked their spots going forward. New York played with they typical desperation of a team down at home but Portland's CB sub Norberto Paparatto blocked to goal bound shots in a 10 second span to ensure Portland earned the three road points.
- Steve Zakuani and his penchant to take on players is something the Timbers have needed but his lack of passing to the overlapping full back needs to be addressed. Jorge Villafaña has shown that he can hit a great cross and needs to be utilized.
- Paparatto deserves some praise because it is never easy to come into a game as a CB and defend as well as he did.
- Rauwshan McKenzie played well enough to be considered, at least he didn't give up a PK
- This could be a turning point in the season just like last year's win at SKC.
- 4 points out of the final playoff spot is not a bad place to be, especially if/when other results go the Timber's way.