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CCL Rewind: Nagbe stunner keeps Timbers alive, Red Bulls advance

Photo by Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports
Photo by Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports

The New York Red Bulls sealed their spot in the CONCACAF Champions League knockout round, but it was a Portland Timbers star that stole the show in Tuesday night’s action.

Darlington Nagbe scored a stoppage time free kick to seal a Timbers win over El Salvador’s CD Dragon, keeping the reigning MLS Cup champions alive as the group stage heads towards a close. With the win, the Timbers set up a must-win clash with Costa Rican side Saprissa, who enter the final group stage match with one more point than their MLS counterpart.

The Red Bulls’ path to the knockout rounds, meanwhile, is already set. A draw with Guatemalan side Antigua was just enough to push the Red Bulls past the group stage and into the next round with eight points from four games.

Here’s a closer look at Tuesday’s action:


The Portland Timbers appeared doomed before two of their stars stepped up to keep their CCL hopes alive. Down a goal late, Fanendo Adi and Darlington Nagbe stunned CD Dragon with a goal apiece in a 2-1 Timbers win in El Salvador.

Following a scoreless first half, Dragon jumped in front in the 54th minute via a goal from Kevin Melara. The deficit prompted Caleb Porter to send in Adi just six minutes later, and the forward’s inclusion paid immediate dividends with a 79th minute finish. Then, with stoppage time dwindling down, it was Nagbe’s time to shine, as the midfielder uncorked a perfect free kick to seal the Timbers win.

The Timbers now look towards a must-win clash against Deportivo Saprissa at Providence Park on Oct. 19.

Here’s a closer look at Nagbe’s goal:


It certainly wasn’t pretty, but it sure was effective, as the New York Red Bulls rode a 0-0 draw with Antigua to a spot in the knockout rounds, the first in team history. The tie seals the top spot in the group for the Red Bulls, who clinched an MLS playoff berth earlier in the week. With the draw, the Red Bulls extend their unbeaten run to 17 across all competitions.

With a crucial match against the Philadelphia Union looming, the Red Bulls rested a majority of their starters for the trip to Guatemala. Luis Robles was among the holdovers, but the goalkeeper was rarely tested save for a second half shot from Mauro Portillo that rolled wide of the post. Robles made three saves on the night, compared to the mere one made by his counterpart Víctor Bolivar.

The Red Bulls now look towards the knockout round, as well as Saturday’s match against the Philadelphia Union.


  1. i watched the last 30 minutes of the Portland game via the Facebook feed. And not that this is anything new with our CONCACAF brothers, but my god that Dragon team was flagrantly time wasting and simulating without repercussions. It was to the point that if I were Porter or the Portland GM or the Don, I would demand to have meetings with their league to stop that kind of ridiculousness in the future. It was an embarrassment. I would have my media department create a compilation video and put it on every site in our country and their country.

    • In the Antigua-RBNY, Alex Muyl got smacked in the head/face twice on contested headers, with no call on either one. The first involved an elbow to his face that had him bleeding like a prizefighter. And don’t get me started about the pitch, which was so wet you could have grown rice on it.

    • Agreed. Nagbe gets a lot of hype, but he becomes invisible too often in too many matches. He’s got the skills, its just a matter of finding consistency at a high level.

      • Sandwiched between two weekend MLS games, but they only have four matches scheduled in October, so hopefully they can get 4 points and a playoff spot from their matches against the Rapids (1st and 16th, I believe) and field a strong side for the final Group game on the 19th

  2. Surprised Nagbe could stay focused with all those fans going crazy in that part of the stadium. All joking aside, nice free kick under pressure.


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