NYCFC tied for top spot in East with win over Portland

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by Christian Araos

Portland, OR — Well, look who is on top of the Eastern Conference now.

New York City FC won its third consecutive game Sunday defeating the Portland Timbers 2–1 at Providence Park.

Thomas McNamara scored the game-winning goal in the 65th minute curling the ball into the top right corner from outside the area. McNamara’s third goal of the season propelled NYCFC into a tie atop the Eastern Conference with 16 points through 11 matches.

The result was uncertain throughout the second half as the Timbers peppered City with 24 shots.

“We worked really hard together as a team,” McNamara said. “We defended for each other and every guy was putting in the effort and we were rewarded for it.”

David Villa gave NYCFC the lead in the 12th minute with some help from referee Hilario Grejada. Contesting with Darlington Nagbe for a loose ball, R.J. Allen appeared to have handled the ball before playing a diagonal ball that split the Timbers’ centerbacks. Villa ran onto the pass and slipped the ball under Jake Gleeson.

Timbers head coach Caleb Porter said fourth official Alex Chilowicz and assistant referee Jeff Hosking needed to help Grejada call the infraction.

“After the game, Hilario Grejada admitted that he didn’t see it, but how does the fourth official not see it?,” Porter said. “That is what they are there for. It was a blatant handball. You can see it from miles away.”

Despite the missed call, the Timbers responded well and pinned City in their own half. Josh Saunders was forced to make three saves including a diving saves on Nagbe and Diego Valeri. Saunders nearly gave away an equalizer in the 39th minute when he bobbled a cross to Nagbe but Jason Hernandez blocked his shot and then Valeri miscued the rebound.

Saunders recorded seven saves in all — a season-high. He said he rode the emotions created by the raucous Timbers Army.

“They ride the wave of the crowd so we just had to stymie them as much as possible,” Saunders said. “The guys did a great job in cutting the opportunities…the effort we put out tonight was incredible.”

NYCFC’s defense ultimately held firm but they gave away the equalizer ten minutes into the second half. The Timbers continued their pressure and it led to Fanendo Adi catching Frédéric Brillant in possession and walked in on Saunders. Adi’s shot took a deflection before beating Saunders. With their goals, Adi and Villa kept pace with Toronto FC forward Sebastian Giovinco in the Golden Boot race with eight goals.

“Adi is a very skilled attacker,” Hernandez said. “He’s a handful for a lot of defenders in this league so it was on me to really be alert and be willing to battle with him for 90 minutes. I thought I did a good job with that tonight and tried to keep him off the board for a little period of time.”

While Porter said afterwards that it was ‘cruel’ for his side to not get a result, NYCFC had the better of the play. They controlled possession for the ten minutes after Adi’s goal and outshot Portland 8-3 in the game’s final 40 minutes. McNamara’s goal came at the end of a five minute stretch where Villa and Mix Diskerud each had two chances.

City head coach Patrick Vieira said the team worked hard to secure the result.

“I think we showed the other side of our game,” Vieira said. “We showed how determined the team was and how hard they work for each other. I was really pleased with our team spirit because not many teams come here and win games. I was proud of the team because we showed a lot of character tonight.”

NYCFC take on Toronto FC Wednesday at 7:30 in BMO Field.

  • GG Allen

    Where’s all the NJRB schmucks? Aren’t you guys supposed to be up on this? Telling us how we just discovered soccer and we’re all vegan transplants from the midwest? Well…. Go eat a pickle. Next week we will house your precious jersey boys! THUNDER ROAD BITCHES!