The New York Red Bulls pulled off an impressive win over the Portland Timbers while resting a majority of their first choice players to open Red Bull Arena in style in 2018.
Goals from Ben Mines, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Carlos Rivas cut the Timbers down on the way to a 4-0 victory. For the second straight season, the Red Bulls opened the year with a victory.
Alejandro “Kaku” Romero Gamarra also made his MLS debut, notching an assist on the opening goal.
The Red Bulls put their faith in a young and inexperienced lineup in the wake of their CONCACAF Champions League match midweek. The starting XI featured debutantes Ben Mines, and Kyle Duncan. In addition to the former academy players, Vincent Bezecourt, Derrick Etienne, and Carlos Rivas all started for the Red Bulls in their home opener.
Jesse Marsch’s gamble paid early dividends for the Red Bulls, with the young players stepping up in a big way in the first half.
It would be Mines to open the scoring in the 18th minute. The first year homegrown player raced to the back post to meet a low cross from Kaku. The move started from a give and go between Derek Etienne and Carlos Rivas. Etienne found Kaku streaking into the box before the young designated player found Mines for his first professional goal.
The Timbers shook off their early rust and found the game as the first half wore on, but had difficulty finding chances. Samuel Armenteros had the best chance for the Timbers in the first half, finding himself on a breakaway against Luis Robles. Armenteros ultimately fired his low shot wide of goal.
Bradlet Wright-Phillips helped ice the game in the 78th minute on a well worked corner served in by Vincent Bezecourt and flicked on by Sean Davis. Before the Timbers could regroup, the Red Bulls scored again in the 80th minute on a goal from Carlos Rivas. Once again, it was Sean Davis finding the open Rivas and notching his second assist of the match.
Carlos Rivas added to his tally in with a stoppage time brace. Connor Lade found the Rivas open just above the six-yard box for an easy tap in.
The Red Bulls will take the field again Tuesday night in the second leg of their CCL matchup against Club Tijuana. The Timbers will head to FC Dallas on March 24th with a week off to regroup after losing their first two matches.
Man of the Match
Sean Davis took over the match in the second half. With the removal of Kaku in the 64th minute, Davis pushed up into the attacking role and showed impressive versatility. In his fourth season, Davis is rounding into an excellent MLS midfielder.
Moment of the Match
The opening goal from 17-year-old Ben Mines was a treat. The cross from Kaku was picture perfect, and left Jake Gleeson in no man’s land.
Match to Forget
Sebastian Blanco looked to still be in preseason form, missing a number of chances throughout his shift, and the Timbers struggled to put chances on target.