Portland Timbers 2, New York Red Bulls 0 | 2017 MLS Match Recap
The game was scrappy on both sides, and each side struggled to put together good chances through the first hour. The Timbers took the lead in the 65th minute, as Diego Chara's cross was redirected in by Diego Valeri. Portland were down to 10 men in the final 10 minutes, as Larrys Mabiala was given a straight red card for a foul on Gonzalo Veron. But the Red Bulls could not find the equalizer, although they put Portland under considerable pressure at the end.
Darren Mattocks scored an insurance tally on the final kick of the game, as he and Valeri pushed a late counterattack to pay dirt.
- BIG WIN: How important was the win for the Timbers? There's been a lot of talk around the league about this group's future if they don't reach the playoffs this season. Now, with three points in the bank, they're in a four-way tie atop the Western Conference standings, pending the rest of the weekend's results. There's still a lot of soccer to be played this year, but this win should give Portland steadier footing in the race for the postseason, at the very least.
- BIG CHANGES: Changes were expected for the Red Bulls due to fixture congestion, as they played in the U.S. Open Cup semifinal in Cincinnati on Tuesday, winning 3-2 in 120 minutes. As a result, Jesse Marsch opted for major changes, naming nine new starters for Friday's game, including Vincent Bezecourt's MLS debut and Dilly Duka's first appearance in MLS with the team. Sacha Kljestan came on in the second half and gave the Red Bulls' attack more coherence, but given the way the schedule broke, few were surprised that the Open Cup game was prioritized over the regular season game across the country.
- EL TROESMA: Somehow, Valeri still seems to be under the radar this year outside of Portland, but his impact on the team has been massive. He has 14 goals and 9 assists, meaning he's had a direct hand in just over half of the Timbers' 45 goals scored this season. Whatever may be said about the ups and downs in Portland's season, Valeri appears to be pulling his share of the load, and then some. Perhaps he'll make his way in the MLS MVP reckoning, too.