PORTLAND, Ore. – The new-look Portland Timbers and New York Red Bulls opened the 2013 MLS season in exhilarating fashion, playing to a 3-3 draw Sunday evening in front of a wild crowd at JELD-WEN Field.
The Timbers rallied from a 3-1 halftime deficit behind a Darlington Nagbe goal and a New York own-goal on a dangerous shot by substitute José Valencia. The Timbers' new Designated Player, midfielder Diego Valeri, scored a first-half goal and was the catalyst behind their dominating second-half attack to give Caleb Porter his first point as a MLS coach.
The Red Bulls’ preseason trade for Real Salt Lake’s Fabián Espíndola and Jámison Olave nearly paid three points for new Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke as they took a 3-1 first-half lead on an Espíndola brace and Olave goal – aided by a handful of defensive gaffes from the Timbers’ freshly signed French center back, Mikaël Silvestre.
The action was early and often. Silvestre’s first blunder came in the ninth minute when he ill advisedly played a ball bouncing in the area back to Donovan Ricketts. The big Portland goalkeeper was unable to control the quick pass, and Espíndola was right there for the easy open-net goal.
Portland were able to respond quickly, however. In the 14th minute, Valeri took a pass from Kalif Alhassan in the area, cleverly volleyed past Olave and slotted a perfectly placed right-footed shot past New York goalkeeper Luis Robles inside the right post.
But Silvestre’s rough night continued when he was unable to control a seemingly harmless searching pass by former Timbers defender Kosuke Kimura down the right side 10 minutes later, and Espíndola was there again for the open shot past Ricketts for the 24th-minute goal.
New York continued to pour it on when a corner kick in the 28th minute was sent wide to Heath Pearce, whom found Olave in front of the goal mouth on a cross that slipped past both Silvestre and center back partner Andrew Jean-Baptiste, to give New York a 3-1 lead.
Portland, still, would not go away. From the open of the second half, they had New York on their back foot with Valeri leading the attack. And it paid off in the 56th minute when the Argentine hit a screamer that forced Robles into a diving save. Nagbe was there to clean it up into the open net to cut New York’s lead to 3-2.
The Timbers tied the game in the 83rd minute when a dangerous Nagbe shot that was saved by Robles eventually found its way to Valencia. He fired into the area, and the shot bounced off Olave for the goal.
Portland nearly completed a miraculous rally as they furiously searched for their fourth. A Ryan Johnson bicycle-kick attempt that sailed just wide of the left post highlighted a number of close calls for the Red Bulls.
Portland next play host to Montreal on March 9, while New York travel to San Jose for a March 10 game against the Earthquakes.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Diego Valeri||Stunning MLS debut from DP, especially his ridiculous opening goal for Timbers.|
|2||Darlington Nagbe||Ran at New York all night like a man possessed — could this be his breakout year?|
|3||Fabián Espíndola||Former RSL man was all too happy to take advantage of Silvestre's errors.|