PORTLAND, Ore. -- New York City FC came away with all three points from their long, cross country road trip after their 2-1 win over the defending champion Timbers on Sunday. But things didn't exactly go as planned.
The win gave NYCFC a three-game winning streak and lifted the club into a tie atop the East, but this latest triumph came on the back of a strong defensive performance which successfully fended off a Portland team which outshot (24-12) and outpossessed them (61-39 percent).
"I think today we showed another side of our game," NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira said after the match. "I think we showed how determined the team was and how they are working for each other. I was really pleased with our team spirit, because it is not easy and not many teams will come here [to Portland] and win games."
Vieira's men managed to take an early lead in the 12th minute through David Villa and they subsequently weathered a furious storm of attacks by the home side. Even when the Timbers finally equalized, NYCFC still found a way to keep battling until they found a winner through Tommy McNamara.
“It was a really difficult game," McNamara said. "Portland did well. They controlled a lot of the ball. They put a lot of pressure on us. But I was really proud of the way that the guys stuck together. We defended really well together, we worked really hard for each other and at the end of the day we got a result out of it because of it.”
"We have to accept that sometimes the game is not going to go the way that we want and we have to accept that other teams will dominate the possession," said Vieira, "but it is about how can we answer that lack of possession. This is why I think we defended really well. They had the possession but from Josh [Saunders, goalkeeper] to David [Villa, forward], everybody worked tremendously hard and we managed to take the three points. That was a really, really good team performance without the ball."
With or without the ball, New York look like a very different team from the side that managed only one win in their first thirteen matches in 2016.
"I think as a team, as a football club, we have shown that we are getting better and better," said Vieira when asked if his team had delivered a message to the rest of the league with the victory in Portland. "Of course, there are still parts of the game that we need to improve, but a win is always good because it gives you confidence and the positiveness to keep working hard."
"But," added Vieira, "there is still along way to go."