The New York Red Bulls kept their playoff hopes alive with a 2-0 away win over the Portland Timbers Wednesday night. Defender Kyle Duncan scored within the first three minutes of the game. Second half substitute Daniel Royer locked down the win with a penalty kick in stoppage time.
Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas made major changes to his lineup that saw a 4-2 defeat in Seattle Sunday, opting to go with more youth than experience. Tom Barlow got the start up top with Josh Sims, Alex Muyl and Tim Parker also getting the nod ahead of veterans Kaku, Daniel Royer and Bradley Wright-Phillips. The result was a high pressing and attack-minded side who put pressure on Portland’s offense throughout the game and ran their defense around the field.
Seattle’s Jordan Morris scored within two minutes of their game with the Red Bulls on Sunday. Kyle Duncan decided to pay it forward to the Timbers when he sent a rocket past goalkeeper Steve Clark in the third minute of the match. Josh Sims set the play in motion when he intercepted a long pass down the left flank and immediately started moving the ball in the opposite direction. Some superb give-and-go play gave way to Sims crossing the ball past the goalmouth to no one in particular when Kyle Duncan, seemingly coming out of nowhere, fired a strike past Clark.
The Timbers then took control and gave themselves multiple opportunities to level the game. But despite totaling fifteen shots throughout the course of the game, Luis Robles had a relatively quiet night, with only three shots on target.
Diego Chara had a golden chance to tie it see the underside of the crossbar and bounce out. Left alone in the middle of the pitch with only Robles to beat, he tried a chip the goalkeeper but got too far underneath the ball. Jeremy Ebobisse and Brian Fernandez also missed unmarked shots in the second half within minutes apart and Portland saw the match slip away.
Kyle Duncan, who scored the only goal of the game thus far, played a major part in setting up the second. Playing off the counter attack, the Timbers were caught completely out of position and Duncan played a perfectly placed cross across the pitch. Duncan’s cross was played just out of reach of Jorge Moreira, Portland’s only defender on the counter. Looking to atone for his error, Moreira made a reckless sliding tackle on Marc Rzatkowski inside the box, leaving the referee no choice but to award the penalty and issue the Timbers player a yellow card. Daniel Royer stepped up and carelessly buried it in the top left corner.
With the win and with three games to play, the Red Bulls are just one victory away from clinching a playoff spot. The Timbers now fall below the playoff line and are desperate to win out. They hope other teams in the West above them falter.