The New York Red Bulls and Portland Timbers played to a spirited draw in the the Mobile Mini Sun cup.
The Red Bulls lineup featured mostly NYRBII players as the first team prepares to participate in the Concacaf Champions League this week. Florian Valot, Vincent Bezecourt, and Kyle Duncan all put in significant minutes in the match. The match stream gave fans their first long look at several new players on the Red Bulls.
Despite jumping out to an early two goal lead, the Red Bulls gave up two second half goals to finish the match 2-2.
Brian White opened the scoring in the 14th minute. The Timbers turned the ball around midfield. After some strong combination play, Florian Valot played in Marcus Epps on the right flank. Epps sent a low cross to White for an easy tap in goal. The entire move from turnover to scoring the goal took seven passes.
Sean Nealis doubled the lead in the 32nd minute. The big, rookie centerback nodded in a floated corner kick from Epps in traffic in the six yard box. Jeff Antinella raised his hand to claim a foul, but the referee ignored the Timber’s challenges.
In the 45th minute, Diego Valeri appeared to pull one back for the Timbers. Sebastian Blanco’s deflected shot fell to Valeri, but was judged to be offside. The Timbers created danger during set piece opportunities throughout the half, but struggled to create in the run of play. The Red Bulls young backline deserves credit for keeping the Timbers at bay, and snuffing out dangerous attacks. Rece Buckmaster, Jordan Scarlett, Kyle Duncan, and Sean Nealis all showed well against an experienced Timbers side.
The second half proved more kind for the Timbers. In the 62nd minute, Jeremy Ebobisse headed in a cross at the back post. Sebastian Blanco held the ball up at the top of the box, then crossed to the back post, evading Scarlett and Buckmaster to nod in a delicate header. Scarlett has struggled with the aerial side of his game in the past. The goal highlights his need to continue to grow in that area.
Diego Valeri pulled the TImbers level in the 70th minute from the penalty spot. Kyle Duncan conceded the penalty, fouling Sebastian Blanco in the box. Valeri sent Evan Louro the wrong way, easily finishing the penalty kick to the left side of the net.
Marvin Loria nearly scored a winner for the Timbers in stoppage time, but his long range effort pinged off the post.
Next up, the Red Bulls take on FC Tuscon Tuesday at 5pm, and Atlético Pantoja Wednesday at 8pm in CCL action.
Man of the match
Marcus Epps created a lot of danger down the right flank. Chris Armas spoke highly of Epps during the early stages of preseason, and it is easy to see why. Epps accelerates well into space and sends in a nice cross, something the Red Bulls lacked at times with the first team.