The New York Red Bulls snapped their three game losing streak with a crucial road win over the Portland Timbers thanks to a Kyle Duncan goal, a rotated lineup, and a return of the press.
With their backs up against the wall, the Red Bulls needed a win during their Western expedition, and following their loss to the Seattle Sounders, it seemed unlikely. Chris Armas responded by employing heavy rotation to the starting lineup, including a rare start for Kyle Duncan.
The second year right back last saw action at the beginning of July against Atlanta United. Getting the start in Portland mirrored Duncan’s first start last season against the same foe. Just as he had in that match last season, Duncan put in an impressive performance combining defensive responsibility and offensive flourishes. Duncan not only scored the Red Bulls first goal, he helped create the opportunity that led to the Red Bulls second.
Josh Sims also played his best match since coming on load with the Red Bulls. He showed his understanding of the Red Bulls system, and why he can be an effective piece within it. While he created opportunities up the field, his hustle back and defensive work proved vital to the result.
The Timbers created a host of chances, particularly in the second half, but the Red Bulls held on for the 2-0 win.
The Red Bulls started the match by flipping the script from their weekend loss to the Seattle Sounders. Kyle Duncan scored the games opening goal in the 3rd minute. Following a turnover, Marc Rzatkowski found Josh Sims, who fed a ball across the box, and Kyle Duncan powered his shot past Steve Clark, scoring his first MLS goal. It was also Sims first assist since joining the team.
The Red Bulls and Timbers traded great scoring chances in the 18th minute. The Red Bulls nearly scored a second in the chaos following a free kick. The Timbers emergency defense kept Cristian Cásseres Jr. chance out of the net, then sprung a dangerous counter attack. Diego Valeri centered the ball on a 2-v-1 break, but Diego Chará’s effort nailed the crossbar.
Heading into the locker room, the Red Bulls kept their slim advantage, but the Timbers grabbed the momentum.
The Red Bulls took control back in the opening fifteen minutes of the second half. They kept the pressure on the Timbers, but struggled to create scoring chances from their attacking flourishes. The Timbers meanwhile tried to find opportunities in transition. They also attempted to keep the ball wide and pull the Red Bulls defense out of position. Both sides kept the tempo high and the match physical.
Late in stoppage time, the Red Bulls put the match out of reach. Kyle Duncan picked off a lazy pass by the Timbers and started a counter attack. After playing a give and go with Bradley Wright-Phillips, Duncan sent a cross to Marc Rzatkowski. Rzatkowski drew a foul in the box to earn a penalty kick. Daniel Royer stepped up to the spot and slammed his effort into the net.
The Red Bulls (13-13-5) climb back up to .500 following the win over the Timbers. The win also reduces their magic number to 3pts over their final three matches of the season. Next up they return home Sunday to take on the Philadelphia Union.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography