The Timbers struggled through the first half as they looked to go with a direct attacking style against NYC, keeping Darlington Nagbe central below Fanendo Adi and pushing Dairon Asprilla and first-time-starter Ishmael Yartey forward from their spots out wide on the wing.
The gambit was rarely successful in the first 45', however, as the Timbers filed to find a regular link between their attacking foursome and the solidly constructed back six. With the attackers attacking and the defenders defending, NYC thrived in the space between the two Timbers groups, regularly pinning the visitors back in their own half or cycling the ball around the pitch in search of a hole in the Timbers' defenses.
Although the Timbers bent regularly, they only came close to breaking once in the first half as New York played a ball into the box in the 31' and Patrick Mullins put pressure on the Timbers' back line, causing one of Liam Ridgewell and Nat Borchers' increasingly characteristic hesitations and coughing the ball up to Medhi Ballouchi, whose quick shot was blocked away by Borchers.
The second half saw the two teams on more even ground as a series of on field adjustments had the Timbers' linking up effectively for the first time in the match.
Still, the Timbers could not break the stalemate for much of the match, throwing men forward on the break and creating chances that were close but not close enough, including a 75' shot from Adi at close range that was deflected around the post by a New York defender's outstretched boot.
Finally, however, the Timbers managed to have a ball break their way in the 79' as Darlington Nagbe drove at the New York back line. With his fellow attackers pressing forward alongside him, Nagbe managed to slip the ball sidways to second-half sub Gaston Fernandez. La Gata took a quick touch through traffic but had the ball poked away from him as the New York defense collapsed on the ball.
Here came the first lucky bounce for the Timbers, however, as the ball was knocked off Fernandez's feet and directly to Asprilla. With little space in which to work, Asprilla took a touch to the side and ripped off a hard shot through traffic. The shot took the Timbers' second lucky bounce once it left Asprilla's foot, clipping off the leg of a New York defender and arching up and around the diving Josh Saunders before catching in the back of the net to put the Timbers up 1-0.
From there it was just a matter of holding on for the Timbers and hold on they did, managing to grind out the win, despite unceasing pressure from NYC that culminated in a 95' free kick that Nagbe, of all people, closed down to kill off the match's final seconds.
The win moves the Timbers into 8th place in the Western Conference. The Timbers play the 4th place Seattle Sounders in Seattle next Sunday.