Portland Timbers Edge NYCFC on Late Goal
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, APRIL 20- On Sunday night, NYCFC hosted its second game at Yankee Stadium within four days as the Portland Timbers travelled nearly 3,000 miles for the first of five road matches in a six week period. Portland and NYC were meeting for the first time, but the Timbers played in New York City 40 years ago. On July 16, 1975, Portland defeated the NY Cosmos, 2‐1, in a NASL game at Randall’s Island. The legendary Pele scored the lone goal for the Cosmos.
NYC was short‐handed (pun intended) as Spanish international star and New York City native Jason Hernandez among others were out with injuries suffered in their previous match, Villa with a hamstring strain and Hernandez with a calf strain.
In addition to the above two starters, Mix Diskerud, who missed the previous match due to playing with the USMNT against Mexico, injured his ankle earlier on Sunday. NYC coach Jason Kreis commented, “We’re really unlucky; five players were unable to play today; that’s a lot.”
Mix downplayed the importance of the injuries as a factor in the loss, “They [substitute players] came and did a great job.” He felt their gaining game experience is beneficial to the club because “we’re going to need them.” Goalie Josh Saunders agreed, “We have a lot of quality players. We can absorb those losses.”
The match was scoreless until the 79th minute when Dairon Asprilla scored the only goal of the game. It was the first MLS goal for the rookie from Colombia, who signed with Portland in December. The Timbers since 2013 have shown remarkable ability to bounce back after suffering a loss. This was their eighth win after losing. In that period they have three draws and have only lost two straight twice.
Despite it being the fifth consecutive NYCFC match without a win and their third straight game being deprived of points by a late goal, the NYC coach and players spoke very positively of their club’s play. Kreis remarked, “I’m actually very encouraged by our performances in the last two matches. Morale was especially high and that’s encouraging...Right now, the results aren’t going the way we like, but the performances are. We need to look at the positives and build on that.”
Each of the players, who spoke with the media after the contest, spoke similarly. Veteran goalie Josh Saunders, a native of Oregon, who spent several seasons with the Timbers, said, “I think we can walk out of here with our heads held high. I thought our defense played well. They [Timbers] had limited chances. If we keep doing good things, good things are going to happen.” The facts bore out the points he made. NYC had 21 shots on goal while Portland had only 12. The other stats such as number of passes, passing accuracy, duels won and possession of the ball were close, but not connected to a losing contest.
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