Matchday Preview: Timbers look to end Red Bulls home streak
The New York Red Bulls put their home unbeaten streak on the line when they face a Portland Timbers side looking for their first road victory of the season, as the clubs meet Sunday evening at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls remained unbeaten on their home ground last week, with a bounceback 2-0 victory against Houston. The Timbers kicked off their two-game Eastern swing at midweek, scoring on the road for the first time since April in a 2-2 draw at Toronto FC.
The Portland Timbers started their two-game Eastern road swing with goals and a point, reaching a 2-2 draw with Toronto FC on Wednesday evening at BMO Field. The Timbers are in ninth place in the Western Conference with 21 points from 23 games.
HIGHLIGHTS: TOR 2, POR 2
- The Timbers took the lead in the 21st minute off a corner kick. David Horst got his head to Steven Smith’s corner, but Eric Avila was on the line to block the ball. But the TFC midfielder could do nothing about the rebound, which was knocked home by an unmarked Sal Zizzo.
- The home side pulled in the 57th minute when Eric Hassli pounded a rebound high into the net after Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts had saved from Silva, his shot coming off a free kick headed further goalward.
- Toronto then went into the lead six minutes later. Ashtone Morgan worked the ball deep into Portland territory before putting a cross in front that was flicked with a header by Hassli to Silva, who put the ball home at the back post.
- But there was one more twist in the tale. An incisive passing movement tore apart the Toronto defense and Smith raced in alone at goal before chipping the ball across the face of goal for Darlington Nagbe to head home and save a point for Portland.
- Timbers interim head coach Gavin Wilkinson made two changes to the side that played to a 1-1 draw with FC Dallas at JELD-WEN Field. Sal Zizzo and Rodney Wallace came into the midfield, in place of Brent Richards and Franck Songo'o.
- PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-2-3-1): Donovan Ricketts - Kosuke Kimura, Hanyer Mosquera, David Horst, Steven Smith - Diego Chara, Jack Jewsbury - Sal Zizzo (Mike Fucito 66), Darlington Nagbe, Rodney Wallace (Eric Alexander 77) - Kris Boyd.
The draw at Toronto put an end to a five-game road losing streak, but the Timbers still saw their road record dip to 0-8-3 for the season. They are the only team in MLS without an away victory this season.
“We applied a lot of pressure and this is part of the maturing process. We lacked a bit of confidence and you can see it in the players,” said Timbers interim head coach Gavin Wilkinson. “It’s a draw on the road, we scored two goals, it’s a good thing for us and we have a lot to look forward to.”
The Sal Zizzo ended the Timbers MLS-record road goalless streak at 717 minutes. Shut out in seven consecutive road games, the Timbers had last scored away from home on April 14 when Kris Boyd scored against the LA Galaxy at The Home Depot Center.
“It’s a step in the right direction, and it’s still momentum going into the next game because we had a good performance and it wasn’t a loss,” said Darlington Nagbe.
Nagbe scored his first goal since March 31, when he scored twice in a 3-2 loss to Real Salt Lake, the last of three goals over the first four games of the season.
“It definitely feels good but I wasn’t thinking about it too much,” Nagbe said. “I am just focused on playing and working hard and getting the result.”
Coming into last weekend’s matches, the Timbers had scored just one goal in the final 15 minutes of games – fewest in Major League Soccer. They’ve now hit for goals in the final quarter-hour in back-to-back games.
“It shows a lot about the urgency and belief that these players have,” Wilkinson said. “I think it is a good sign because we put ourselves in that situation and I think we were our own worst enemy where in isolated incidents we had given Toronto chances.”
In his Portland debut, goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts was beaten for two goals. He was coming off a shutout in his last appearance with the Montréal Impact before the trade.
- “I think there are always areas to improve on and I think if the backline play as well individually and collectively as they can we will be fine,” said Wilkinson.
NEW YORK RED BULLS
The New York Red Bulls won the back end of their home-and-home series with the Houston Dynamo, reversing the scoreline with a 2-0 victory Friday at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls moved into second place in the Eastern Conference, with 41 points from 24 games.
HIGHLIGHTS: NY 2, HOU 0
- The Red Bulls took the lead in the 61st minute. Tim Cahill got on the end of a Roy Miller cross and nodded the ball down to a wide-open Markus Holgersson, who had the easiest of finishes in front of goal for the opener.
- As Houston tried to pour on late pressure, New York to hit back on the counter to seal the result in stoppage time. Thierry Henry was freed on the left flank with no defenders ahead of him save goalkeeper Tally Hall, and slid a square pass to Jan Gunnar Solli for a tap-in into an empty net.
- Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe made three changes that lost 2-0 to Houston at BBVA Compass Stadium. Dax McCarty, Joel Lindpere and Kenny Cooper came into the team, in place of Wilman Conde, Teemu Tainio and Jan Gunnar Solli.
- NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-1-3-2): Bill Gaudette - Connor Lade, Heath Pearce, Markus Holgersson, Roy Miller - Dax McCarty - Sebastien Le Toux (Jan Gunnar Solli 78), Tim Cahill, Joel Lindpere (Teemu Tainio 79) - Kenny Cooper (Rafa Marquez 86), Thierry Henry.
After splitting their home-and-home series with Houston – each winning 2-0 at home – the Red Bulls are still undefeated at Red Bull Arena. New York – and Houston – are both 8-0-3 at home this season.
“We just worked with the pressing game more than we’ve done before and everyone [got after it],” Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe said. “The aggressiveness in the pressing game, the tackles, suddenly to almost try to have a session that looks like a competitive game, and that everyone stepped up and just said, ‘This is the way it has to be.’”
Making his second start for the Red Bulls, Tim Cahill played a part in both goals the win vs. Houston, recording his first two MLS assists.
“This was probably one of the best weeks of training we’ve ever had,” midfielder Dax McCarty said. “It was physical, guys were kicking each other but in a good way. That sets the tone for the week. It comes from our main guys. It comes from Rafa [Márquez], Tim [Cahill] and Thierry [Henry]. They really set the tone in training, they made it hard on guys, and they made sure that nothing was easy. You have to train how you play. It showed in the way that we played.”
Jan Gunnar Solli recorded his third goal in nine games, after going 43 MLS league appearances without hitting the back of the net.
Markus Holgersson scored his first goal since May 13 at Philadelphia, his second with the Red Bulls.
“Overall, he’s been solid defending-wise and that’s what he is, he is a defender,” said Backe. “But I think also he has improved in his attacking game, even if we sometimes during this game had too many final passes from the back four. But that depends a little bit that Houston drops. They don’t press that high, they drop and get back in a 4-1-4-1 formation, which is difficult to break down. But the back four, there has to be that kind of passion to defend. They’re on the pitch to defend and it’s good that we can have a clean sheet tonight.”
Thierry Henry contributed his seventh assist of the season, and has two goals and two assists over the last five games. Henry has played a part in four of New York’s last six goals, all since returning to the starting lineup full-time.
“It’s in a way that kind of attitude [from Henry] that we probably need to perform like this, because this is the way it has to be every game from now on: that kind of pressing game, that attitude, taking care of our own business, so that was good,” Backe said. “It was definitely what you call an upgrade.”
With the acquisition of goalkeeper Luis Robles, the Red Bulls now have three fit goalkeepers in competition for the starting job. Ryan Meara is healthy again after suffering a hip injury after starting each of the first 18 games; veteran Bill Gaudette, acquired from the LA Galaxy, has started the last six games.
“Bill’s come in and done great and we’re winning, we’re a point off of first place in the East, so it’s hard to switch anything up right now when it’s going well,” said Meara. “For me, personally, my main goal is right now to get healthy, get back on the field, get back to training and obviously I want to be the starter again. But I understand when it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
- Said Robles: “Competition is always good. It doesn’t matter what position, whether it’s goalkeeper or up top. When there’s someone that’s at a good level competing everyday against you, it’s going to bring the sharpness and best out of you.
REFEREE: Jasen Anno. AR1 (bench): Craig Lowry; AR2 (opposite): Claudio Badea; 4th: Jorge Luna Hernandez
MLS Career: 33 games; FC/gm: 22.7; Y/gm: 2.8; R: 20; pens: 10
- NEW YORK RED BULLS -- OUT: DF Rafa Marquez (L calf strain); GK Ryan Meara (hip injury)
- PORTLAND TIMBERS -- OUT: DF Chris Taylor (R hip surgery); QUESTIONABLE: MF Kalif Alhassan (L patellar tendinitis)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
- SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: NY: Joel Lindpere … POR: Diego Chara, Lovel Palmer
- SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: NY: Kenny Cooper, Connor Lade, Victor Palsson … POR: Kris Boyd, Jack Jewsbury, Hanyer Mosquera, Steven Smith, Kosuke Kimura
ALL-TIME (2 meetings): Red Bulls 1 win, 5 goals … Timbers 0 wins, 3 goals … Ties 1
AT NEW YORK (1 meeting): Red Bulls 1 win, 2 goals … Timbers 0 wins, 0 goals … Ties 0
6/19: POR 3, NY 3 (Jewsbury 48; Goldthwaite 49; own goal 67 – da Luz 5; Henry 73; De Rosario 90)
9/24: NY 2, POR 2 (Richards 21; Rodgers 66)
- This is the only league meeting between the clubs this season.
- The Red Bulls won the second meeting between the clubs, a 2-0 triumph at Red Bull Arena, after they played to a wild 3-3 draw in Portland in their first encounter in the Timbers’ inaugural season.
Coaches record: Hans Backe vs. POR: P2 W1 L0 D1 … Gavin Wilkinson vs. NY: first game