MLS: Timbers Playoff Hopes still Alive
Dane Richards‘ first half goal and a penalty shot from Luke Rodgers gave the New York Red Bulls enough to shut out the Portland Timbers 2-0 on Saturday night at Red Bull Arena as Portland’s road woes continue.
The Timbers are now just 1-9-4 away from JELD-WEN Field, and have not won on the road since July 16 when they recorded a 1-0 victory at Chicago.
The three points garnered by New York was enough to pass Portland for sole possession of the 10th and final playoff spot, one point in front of DC United and two over the Timbers.
After some early pressure from Portland, New York opened the scoring just 21 minutes into the match, and Rodgers iced the game in the 66th minute after Kalif Alhassan was sent off after handling a Thierry Henry shot at the goal line.
The Timbers, relying on the counterattack, were unable to engineer any real quality scoring opportunities in the first half, finishing with just three shots on goal in the entire 90 minutes of play.
Portland did however muster two decent chance of netting the equalizer midway through the second half, when Alhassan’s curving shot beat NY goalkeeper Frank Rost striking the crossbar before falling at the foot of forward Kenny Cooper who bounced the ball off the post before it was cleared.
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The Timbers take their postseason hopes on the road again to rival Vancouver for a Sunday Cascadia derby match.
Coach John Spencer will have some tough choices to make on his lineup card as he is facing the suspensions of midfielders, captain Jack Jewsbury for yellow-card accumulation, and Kalif Alhassan for his red card at New York last week.
Spencer is likely to go with newcomer Eric Alexander, who after coming over in a trade deal with FC Dallas back in August, got his first start against New York on the wing in place of Sal Rizzo. Other options are James Marcelin, who’s started nine games, or Peter Lowry, who hasn’t started since March, but has played well recently in reserves games.
Besides missing two key components in the midfield, Spencer will also have to make keen decisions on whether or not to stay with the forward combination of veteran Kenny Cooper and rookie Darlington Nagbe who were shut out in New York, after being so instrumental in Portland’s 3-0 win Sept. 16 against New England.
It’s likely Spencer will go with Jorge Perlaza, the squad’s second-leading goal scorer, who has come off the bench in the past two matches after missing the start against the Revs.
Saturday’s result ended Vancouver’s chances of winning this year’s fan-based Cascadia Cup competition and also eliminated them from making the MLS Cup Playoffs in their expansion year.
Forward Eddie Johnson and goalkeeper Adin Brown are still recovering from earlier season concussions and are listed day-to-day.
International Round up
Five Portland Timbers were called up for international duty on Thursday. Among them were defenders Futty Danso (The Gambia) and Steve Purdy (El Salvador), midfielders Diego Chara (Colombia) and James Marcelin (Haiti) and forward Brian Umony (Uganda).
While participating in FIFA international match dates, the Timbers’ call-ups will not miss a regular-season match and are scheduled to return to Portland in time for the club’s regular-season home finale on Friday, Oct. 14, against the Houston Dynamo.
CenturyLink Man of the Match
After making six saves, one shy of his season-high mark of seven, in the Timbers loss to New York, goalkeeper Troy Perkins was voted the CenturyLink Man of the Match.