There were few bright spots in the New York Red Bulls 2-1 loss to Portland this weekend, but Chris Duvall was surely one of them.
With assumed starters Kosuke Kimura and Richard Eckersley unable to consistently show their merit in the eleven, the Wake Forest rookie has come up from the rear to challenge for the spot.
“I thought he did more than hold his own,” head coach Mike Petke said after the match. “I thought his distribution was good, his timing was good, but he made some mistakes because he is young and that’s expected and we knew that. But, he should hold his head up for his first 90 minutes in a game in MLS. He should definitely hold his head up.”
Duvall was paired against Steve Zakuani; one of the most dangerous wingers in MLS over the past few years. While defensive breakdowns allowed the Timbers to notch a pair of goals, Duvall kept his assignment quiet throughout the majority of the game.
“I thought he played great,” goalkeeper Luis Robles said. “Up and down the line, one-on-one defense against a very difficult winger like Zakuani is great. I think he played like he wanted to play and that’s huge for him.”
As for Duvall, he was happy about his debut, but labeled the night “bittersweet” thanks to the deflating defeat.
“It’s hard to think you played well when you give up two goals as a defense but I did my best and, you know, tried to defend hard but unfortunately we couldn’t get a win,” he said.
While nervous about the start, the 22-year-old defender left grateful for the chance to make his mark.
“The coaches have been great about giving us confidence and helping us through situations,” he said after the match. “This was a great opportunity for me.”
And it can be one of many more to come.