Makeshift Red Bulls Fall in Portland

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Red Bulls logoThe New York Red Bulls used a makeshift lineup playing in their third game in seven days and surrendered a pair of second-half goals to fall, 2-0, in Portland in Providence Park on Friday.

Diego Valeri scored in the 65th and Darren Mattocks added essentially an open-net goal in the 96th as goalkeeper Luis Robles went forward on a last-minute corner kick to give the Timbers (10-9-7, 37 points) a share of a three-way tie for the lead in the Western Conference before the rest of the weekend’s games.

New York beat Orlando on Saturday and prevailing in extra time over FC Cincinnati on Tuesday. After those two matches in which they used 10 of the same players, the Red Bulls (12-10-2, 38) started only two players from the U.S. Open Cup semifinal victory three days earlier: Kemar Lawrence and Felipe Martins.

To make up for the fatigued legs, New York Coach Jesse Marsch gave three players — Fidel Escobar, Vincent Bezecourt and Dilly Duka their team debuts. The Red Bulls’ personnel issues were further complicated when Aurelien Collin, who had not played since June with a hamstring injury, was forced out of the game with another injury in the 25th minute.

Escobar really grew into the game,” Marsch said after the game. “He was dominant, he was dominant in the back. He took care of 1 v 1 situations with [Jeremy] Ebobisse and with [Darren] Mattocks and he was dominant. Dilly Duka I thought was quite good, he understood what we are trying to do, he understood our tactics. Found the game in a lot of ways. The last one is Vincent. I think he’s got a lot of good qualities, thought he worked hard, thought he fit in the midfield really well. He put some attacking plays together. I thought we were unlucky, we were really unlucky not to come out with more in this game. Really, really proud of our team.”

Portland finished the match with 10 men after defender Larrys Mabiala was ejected in the 80th for a foul on Gonzalo Verón just outside the penalty area as the Red Bulls forward appeared in alone on goal.

Portland had better possession to open a match that had a lot of back-and-forth early but few clear chances. The Red Bulls didn’t create a shot on goal until Connor Lade skipped a right-footed shot in on Jeff Anttinella in the 54th.

Valeri put Portland ahead when Diego Chara chased a throw-in into the right corner, after Lawrence fell down, and sent a one-skip cross into the area. Valeri volleyed the cross from about nine yards from goal and beat Robles inside the right post.

Marsch countered by sending in two of his regulars who had played in both of the Red Bulls’ two previous games, Aaron Long and Sacha Kljestan, and New York began to look more dangerous.

Kljestan had a shot blocked at the right post in 79th minute and, after Verón drew the foul and red card on Mabiala, Attinella made a game-saving block by getting his right hand to Sal Zizzo’s close-range header in the 90th.

“Going into this game we knew we were going to have to rest certain starters,” Robles said. “As we trained yesterday and did tactical work, we look to the guys on the field and this is a great group. There’s a lot of confidence and belief in each guy, it doesn’t matter who steps in there, we know and really believe that person is going to do their job. I felt like today, that was the case.”

The loss was only New York’s second in its last 10 games over all and the first time it had been shut out since a 2-0 defeat to Hudson River rival New York City FC on June 24 — the opposition on Friday night at Red Bull Arena in the final rivalry game of the regular season. The Red Bulls fell to 4-8-0 on the road.