By RYAN TOLMICH
HARRISON, N.J.– A Bradley Wright-Phillips penalty was canceled out by a pair of Maximiliano Urruti strikes as the New York Red Bulls fell to the Portland Timbers, 2-1, at Red Bull Arena.
Wright-Phillips opened the scoring in the 36th minute from the spot after Lloyd Sam was dragged down in the box by Portland defender Pa Modou Kah. A diving Donovan Ricketts guessed left on the ensuing penalty, but Wright-Phillips calmly slotted home into the net’s right corner.
Urruti negated what had been a dominant opening half for the home side with a long-distance equalizer just before the halftime whistle. The Argentine’s shot from just outside the Red Bull box took a deflection on its way towards Luis Robles, leaving the Red Bulls goalkeeper helpless for what was the final kick of the half.
“The first goal was key because we were all kind of spread out throughout the pitch,” Urruti said. “It kind of brought us back together again. It gave us good heads going back into the locker room so we could come out more aggressive in the second half.”
Urruti added his second in the 73rd minute to give the visitors the lead. Timbers fullback Jorge Villafana dribbled the ball into space on the left side of the Red Bull box and fired a cross towards the Red Bull backline. The ball caromed off of Red Bull defender Armando and into the path of Urruti, who smashed the ball into side-netting to put the Timbers ahead for good.
“We believe in (Urruti),” said Timbers coach Caleb Porter. “Early in the year he missed some chances and lost a little confidence. He’s in a run of form right now and that’s exactly what you want out of your strikers.”
Despite the scoreline, it was the Red Bulls who led the way in the shot department by a 15-10 margin. The Red Bulls had numerous chances, especially in the first half, but the hosts appeared gun-shy in the Timbers’ box throughout the evening.
“We seemed to have some very good play: interchange between players, ball movement,” said Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke, “but then we get to the top of the box and we either want to take that extra touch or make that extra pass when it’s not necessary. I thought we did have numerous chances and if we took those shots instead of that extra dribble, we would have had more and maybe one goes in.”
His league leading 10th goal offered little solace to goalscorer Wright-Phillips, who was also left disappointed with the team’s inability to capitalize, especially on a pair of goals ruled offside by the official.
“I’m not really happy (with my performance),” Wright-Phillips said. “I think I should have had at least one more today. I don’t really care about the ten. It’s not the end of the season. We just need to be in the playoff race.”
With the win, the Timbers stretch their undefeated streak to five games, picking up their second victory in that span. Meanwhile, the Red Bulls drop their third straight and fifth of the season.
The Timbers will look to extend their unbeaten streak to six next week when they take on Chivas USA Wednesday, while the Red Bulls will look to get back in the win column Tuesday when they head to Sporting Park to take on Sporting Kansas City, much to the pleasure of Wright-Phillips.
“I like it like this,” Wright-Philips said. “I like when there’s back-to-back games. I don’t like waiting the whole weekend because you’re stuck with this feeling. Kansas, here we come.”
Here are the match highlights: