The Portland Timbers' goal-less streak ended at 335 minutes Saturday, May 7. And, while Jaroslaw Niezgoda's goal wasn't enough for a win, the club came away from a 1-1 road draw with the New York Red Bulls feeling good about its performance.
Jaroslaw Niezgoda scored off a cross from Santiago Moreno (1-0 Timbers, 53rd minute).
Aaron Long finished from 12 yards on a second ball from a Red Bulls corner kick after Dylan Nealis won the first header at the far post on a corner kick (1-1, 68th minute).
Bit picture — After going nearly the equivalent of four full matches) without scoring, Niezgoda's goal was a relief for the Timbers and their fans. And, it was a quality play during a match Portland might have scored two or three times with a little better luck. Niezgoda's third goal of the season came when he got a step on his defender and touched a delivery from Moreno into the net. The play started with Moreno controlling a long ball from goalkeeper David Bingham. Moreno, left back Justin Rasmussen and Marvin Loria all made strong plays on the ball before it got wide to Moreno with space to deliver his cross.
Portland is still missing key players, though Diego Chara and Sebastian Blanco each came on later in the second half, an indication that the team's two most impactful field players might be able to contribute to a busy stretch. The Timbers were without goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic and regular outside backs Josecarlos Van Rankin (suspended) and Claudio Bravo (thigh), but for the most part Rasmussen and Bonilla held their own against a New York team that pressures defenders and looks to exploit space behind. Also not available were forward Dairon Asprilla (health and safety protocol) and Blake Bodily (hamstring) in addition to longer-term ailments for Felipe Mora, Diego Gutierrez and George Fochive.
Portland's record is 2-3-6 for 12 points from 11 matches. The Timbers' depth will continue to be tested because Saturday's match was the first of five over 16 days. Portland goes to Los Angeles for a Tuesday U.S. Open Cup match against LAFC, then is home on May 14 against Sporting Kansas City.
Coach Giovanni Savarese: "We saw the energy back again in the team we saw a competitive team. … We were able to move the ball very well around there pressure, something that is not very easy. I thought we created some very, very good opportunities by playing behind, by moving the ball well, by switching point of attack."
Goalkeeper David Bingham about his first start for the Timbers, who he signed with in the offseason after training with the club in 2021. It was the 181st start for the former Earthquakes and Galaxy goalkeeper: "Definitely felt good to get out there and play again. It's been something I've been wanting to do. And obviously it's taken a bit of time before I got a shot. So I was excited and I wasn't really that nervous. I was just ready to get out there and get back to work."
Santiago Moreno (translated) on setting up a much-needed goal: "Those are the kinds of plays that we've been training with the coaching staff and I'm just very happy and feel very fortunate that I was able to assist him on that goal. I tried to do what we've been training really hard to practice."
Savarese on the challenging schedule: "it's going to be a very tough month. We're going to need everybody to help us out."
Timbers' next match: At LAFC, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 10 (U.S. Open Cup; streamed on ESPN+).
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