PORTLAND, Ore. — We knew they’d score goals. And on Sunday, Caleb Porter’s Portland Timbers did, putting three on the visiting New York Red Bulls.
We also knew they’d allow goals, and boy did they ever. A terrible debut from imported defender Mikael Silvestre contributed to three New York goals in the first 28 minutes.
As wild as the night was by Major League Soccer standards — six goals, including two during the Timbers’ second half comeback — we maybe in store for more. If the first 90 minutes of the Caleb Porter era are any indication, Portland fans could be in for a few more 3-3 results like the one they played out against New York.
In attack, Portland were as advertised. Newcomer Diego Valeri was a constant threat, the skill exhibited on his 14th minute goal sure to make the Timbers’ opener a Goal of the Week candidate. After a quiet start, Darlington Nagbe was the final hour’s best player, scoring the Timbers’ second before starting the play that led to the third. With two close calls late, Ryan Johnson nearly completed Portland’s comeback from 3-1 down. All the stars of Portland’s attack shined.
At the other end of the spectrum was their defense, with Silvestre playing a part in all three goals. Miscommunication between the former Manchester United defender and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts gifted Fabian Espindola a ninth minute opener. His misread of a bouncing ball in the 24th gave the former Real Salt Laker a second. His inability to cut out a ball across the six from Heath Pearce saw Jamison Olave put New York up 3-1 after 28 minutes.
The 35-year-old responded well, his play on the ball helping the Timbers’ second half siege. But it’s a debut he’ll want to forget.
Other notes from Sunday’s draw (mostly about New York):
- Because of the Timbers’ ups and downs, it’s hard to draw any conclusions about New York. It was, however, noticeable how little influence the Juninho-Dax McCarty midfield had on the game.
- It also appeared as if New York may have taken their 3-1 lead for granted. The intensity of their four advanced players (Espindola, Tim Cahill, Thierry Henry, and Ruben Bover Izquierdo) dropped. Had the team kept going to him, Espindola could have kept taking advantage of Portland.
- What a weird night for Jamison Olave. The New York defender was caught flat-footed on the Valeri goal. A late own goal credited to him bookended his night. In between, he was the game’s best defender, and he scored the team’s third goal. Strange stuff.
- Thierry Henry started wide left but played most of the match through the middle, with his permanent shift to a central role coming after New York went up two.
- Overall, it was a poor night for the Red Bulls’ star. He looked slow and rusty, his touch failing him a number of times.
- After the game, Caleb Porter quoted a lot of Portland’s favorable statistics. They held 63 percent of the game’s possession. They out-passed New York 549-319. They put 10 shots on goal to New Yorks five, and their total shots advantage was 21-10.