PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Timbers’ home stand continues to be a disappointment.
The Timbers lost at Providence Park again, this time to the New York Red Bulls, and the Timbers have matched their most home losses in a season since 2011, the year they joined Major League Soccer. With Wednesday’s other results, the Timbers dropped below the playoff line to eighth place in the Western Conference.
The Red Bulls’ 2-0 win Wednesday was bookended by a very quick Kyle Duncan goal to give the Red Bulls an early lead, and a parting shot from Danny Royer in deep stoppage time.
“Frustrated to have lost another three points at home,” Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said afterward. “…We’re not very lucky, but we need to bring our luck. We understand we need to be better.”
It took less than three minutes for the Red Bulls to take the lead.
Marc Rzatkowski dished the ball out wide to Josh Sims, who crossed it into space near the back post. A late-arriving Duncan ran onto it and fired one-time, beating goalkeeper Steve Clark. It was Duncan’s first goal in MLS.
“They found an early in space to the back post, which we didn’t cover,” Savarese said. “We didn’t have anybody there who should’ve been there.”
Replays showed Tomas Conechny was covering Duncan and lost his mark on the play.
The Red Bulls earned a penalty kick in the 97th minute, which was easily converted by Royer, New York’s top scorer.
“We started the game off very badly,” said Timbers defender Claude Dielna. “Not with the right energy.”
The Timbers certainly had their chances to score, but repeatedly failed to capitalize.
In the 20th minute, Diego Chara got behind the Red Bulls’ back line on a breakaway, but as goalkeeper Luis Robles came out to close him down, Chara’s attempted chip went off the crossbar.
The Timbers found another golden chance in the 66th minute when Jeremy Ebobisse rose up to meet a cross with a powerful header, but it went directly to Robles.
In the 82nd minute, Ebobisse failed to equalize again. Sebastian Blanco, who subbed on in the second half after missing the last two Timbers games with injury, sent a diagonal cross up-field into Ebobisse’s path. As Robles came out, Ebobisse beat the goalkeeper with a low shot, but it sailed just wide.
“We are having that issue, where we can’t score a goal and be in the position to win a game,” Diego Valeri said of the Timbers being shut out in two straight matches at home.
Sep 18, 2019; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Timbers defender Bill Tuiloma (25) stops an attack by New York Red Bulls defender Kemar Lawrence (92) during the first half at Providence Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
At halftime, Savarese blamed his players for poor execution in the first half.
“The guys, for me, they started very slow and didn’t match their energy,” Savarese said. “We felt by moving the ball, we’re going to be able to come out, and they didn’t do the things we asked them to do.”
The Timbers have lost four of their last six games, which have all been at home.
The Timbers played their first 12 games on the road to start the season due to renovations at Providence Park, and this current stretch of games in Portland was supposed to be the time they bounced back. But the Timbers have now lost two back to back, and are on pace for their worst home season since joining MLS.
The Timbers’ night went from bad to worse, however, in the 74th minute.
Cristhian Paredes had to be stretchered off after a nasty tackle from the Red Bulls’ Cristian Casseres Jr. Replays show Paredes’ ankle bent with the tackle on his planted foot, but referee Alan Kelly did not show Casseres even a yellow card. Paredes has made 19 appearances this season and has been a regular for the Timbers, minus some injuries and Paraguayan national team duty.
“How did the referee miss the foul?” Savarese said. “We were frustrated.”
He added: “I got a fine last week (for criticizing the referees) so I’m not going to talk about it.”
The Timbers have been hammered with injuries and absences, to the point that they could not fill their game-day roster to the maximum 18 players in their previous two games. But they did see some important returns on Wednesday, including Brian Fernandez (stomach virus), Sebastian Blanco (calf injury) and Renzo Zambrano (suspension).
Up next, the Timbers host Minnesota United on Sunday, and then they have a quick turnaround to host the New England Revolution next Wednesday. They head on the road once more this year to Sporting Kansas City before hosting the San Jose Earthquakes to wrap up the regular season.
“There’s a lot of difficult matches in front of us but we have to stay together as a united front,” Savarese said.
The Red Bulls, who climbed to sixth in the East, next host the Philadelphia Union on Sunday.