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NY Monday Gaffer: Portland deserved to win, says Henry

Thierry Henry and Diego Chara

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The New York Red Bulls kicked off their four-city road trip on Sunday night at JELD-WEN Field with a late goal to salvage a 3-3 tie with the Portland Timbers. The Monday Gaffer looks at the wild draw.

Fantastic first half …

It looked as though New York were set for a breakout game after dominating the first 45 minutes in which Austin da Luz scored to launch an emphatic half. Portland’s midfield had no answer for their New York counterparts, and Thierry Henry’s frequent dropping back helped his team maintain long spells of possession.

“We played very good in the first half, very comfortable, very composed,” head coach Hans Backe said. “Our shape was phenomenal.”

New York's possession limited Portland to just two shots in the first half, and their compact shape was the ideal way to start a match on the road.

… But a so-so second

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It all fell apart in the second half. The Red Bulls' 1-0 lead lasted just three minutes beyond the break and then evaporated a minute later as the Timbers grabbed a 2-1 lead off set-piece goals.

By the 67th minute, it was 3-1 courtesy of Stephen Keel's own-goal. Even though New York battled back for two goals and the draw, it was a disappointing way to play the second half after such an emphatic start to the match.

“I don’t think Portland deserved to draw the game, and I don’t think we did deserve to draw the game either,” Henry said. “They deserved to win.”

The Red Bulls seemed disjointed and struggled to keep possession in the second half, and opportunities in the final third were limited.

“We kind of lost our game plan, we panicked,” De Rosario said. “We can’t afford to do that.”

The Portland support

The home support at JELD-WEN provided a obvious lift for the Timbers in the second half. Backe said Portland might have the best atmosphere in the league, and Henry mused after the match that perhaps the Red Bulls were intimidated by the frothy Timbers crowd during the second half.

“I have to say the fans are amazing here,” Henry said. “They didn’t stop singing. They were there an hour before the game.”

Mind games

Game 1 of the road trip is out of the way, and while the draw is important, will a draining battle like this doom the Red Bulls for the rest of the war? It remains to be seen whether the physical and emotional battle will lift or deflate New York for the final three matches of the road trip swing.

“Games like that take a lot out of you mentally, physically and emotionally,” De Rosario said. “We’re too good of a team to dominate teams like that in the first half and then turn around and have the complete opposite in the second half.”

Perhaps the resilience shown is enough to carry New York to more road points.

“Hopefully we can pick up seven points out of the next three games,” De Rosario said.

Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer