Sebastian Blanco, Portland Timbers blank NYCFC 1-0
Sebastian Blanco’s 14th-minute goal helped lift the Portland Timbers to a 1-0 win over New York City FC Sunday at Yankee Stadium.
It was the Timbers’ third win in their last four games, while NYCFC’s MLS-best 12-match unbeaten streak, which included three consecutive wins, was snapped.
Portland has won all three of the all-time meetings at Yankee Stadium without conceding a goal, each by the same 1-0 scoreline.
“We have to keep working in that way because I’m very proud of them,” NYCFC coach Dome Torrent said after the game. “They played really well, especially the second half, much better than the first half. Even the first half we deserved at least one goal, two goals. Sometimes that happens in football. You cannot score a goal and they create one or two chances and they score a goal. That is the reality tonight.”
Blanco benefited from a missed clearance by Sebastien Ibeagha on a Diego Valeri free kick that fell into his path and the Argentine clipped a shot past Brad Stuver from eight yards out for his third goal of the season.
“I think a lot of things went wrong with it,” Stuver said. “We tend to play a high line on that and everybody has to be coordinated on it. We’ll watch the film back, but when I first looked at it, it looks like our line’s a little bit disjointed.”
Blanco was fouled by Alex Ring to set up the free kick.
“Our line was a little bit off and I try to make a play, overstretch for it, took a bad touch off my foot and landed right into the path of Blanco,” Ibeagha said. “It’s one of those things that’s really unlucky. But I tried to make a play on it and I was just unfortunate.”
The first chance of the first half fell to Keaton Parks, who stutter-stepped to send Larrys Mabiala to the ground before his shot from the right edge of the six-yard box went off the outside netting in the 10th minute.
NYCFC (7-2-8, 29 points) dodged a bullet in the 20th minute when Stuver slipped as Brian Fernandez was played behind the defense. But he recovered in time to grab the ball from the onrushing attacker.
Seven minutes later, Ben Sweat took down a ball from the back with a deft touch and exploded up the left sideline. The left back served a dangerous ball in front that was snuffed out by Claude Dielna’s sliding clearance for an NYCFC corner kick.
In the 29th minute, Anton Tinnerholm found Ronald Matarrita on an overlapping run and the Costa Rican international served a ball toward the back post toward Taty Castellanos cleared away by Zarek Valentin.
The two nearly connected again in the 42nd minute when Matarrita played a free kick to Castellanos, but his sliding shot was wide of the target.
The final five minutes of the first half was a feisty affair with referee Ted Unkel booking Dielna, Blanco, Marco Farfan, Dairon Asprilla and Valentin. Two of those cards resulted from harsh challenges on Maxi Moralez.
Anton Tinnerholm opened the second half with a golden chance to level, but Blanco blocked his close range attempt for an NYCFC corner in the 47th minute.
Twenty minutes later, an open Moralez took down a Matarrita cross, but his shot from 12 yards out was blocked by Farfan. NYCFC players protested for a handball and Unkel put a finger in his ear to check, but his initial call stood and the hosts instead had a corner kick.
Jeremy Ebobisse had a chance to seal the win in the 77th minute for the Timbers (7-8-2, 23 points), getting to a ball that Stuver came out to play, but missed. But the second-half substitute put his shot off the near post.
A minute later, NYCFC nearly leveled when Jesus Medina ran unmarked into the box to latch onto a Moralez free kick. But he lobbed over the crossbar.
Clark raced off his line to jump and grab a Tinnerholm attempted lob in the first of five minutes of second-half stoppage time. In the 95th minute, Ibeagha got on the end of a Ring free kick, but Clark parried over the crossbar for another corner.
“[Alex Ring] played a good ball in and I tried to make a play on it again and tried to just keep on frame,” Ibeagha said. “I hit it a little more back post and mishit it a bit, but I tried to sneak it in, but Clark made a good save.”
NYCFC outshot the Timbers, 15-10, had 13 corners to Portland’s two, more than double the amount of passes and held 67.7 percent of the possession.
“It’s a little bit unlucky tonight just because we had so much the ball, we had so much of the possession going forward, we created a lot of half chances going forward,” Stuver said. “We really only give up two chances throughout the game — one a shot from distance and a free kick. We talked before the game about how they’re a counter attacking team and they’re good on set pieces and I thought we did extremely well for the majority of the game.”
Both teams have another short turnaround with U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals Wednesday night. NYCFC heads to Exploria Stadium to meet Orlando City SC, while the Timbers are at Banc of California Stadium to face LAFC.