It was an eventful night at Red Bull Arena as the Red Bulls were continuing to chase top of the east Sporting Kansas City for that number one spot, and it took a defender to get the winning goal late in the second half.
A corner was won by the Red Bulls as Thierry Henry thought it should’ve been a hand ball and a penalty for his side. As the French star took the corner at the far side, the ball missed everyone and landed at Kenny Cooper’s feet. He settled it and found Jan Gunnar Solli who crossed a good ball back into the area.
Out of nowhere it was Heath Pearce with a big leaping header who got it on frame and past Donovan Ricketts for the match winner in the 83rd minute to secure the full three points and setting up a big road match at Livestrong Sporting Park next week.
But when you’re facing a side that is dead last in the Western Conference and hasn’t won a lot of games away from Jen-Weld Field, the senses says that it should be a comfortable victory for one of top sides in the league. But that wasn’t the case tonight. Even though they fought for the comeback victory down by two it was not a solid performance.
The Timbers got their first two goals of the match on the counter and caught the Red Bulls napping. An 8th minute goal from Bright Dike (pronounced dee-KAY) startled the home crowd, as he took it one time to beat Bill Gaudette. It was Kosuke Kimura that sprung Sal Zizzo on the near side for a good run, and he faked out his defender for the cross.
The second goal was a terrible mistake by Roy Miller who lost the ball and was stolen by Zizzo. He found Franck Songo’o on the far side. Good cross to Zizzo who finds a streaking Darlington Nagbe and just like all of his highlight goals; Nagbe bends the ball around a rushing Gaudette to tuck it inside the far post.
Hans Backe knew a tactical change was necessary, and he brought in Kenny Cooper off the substitutes bench to replace Miller, who went straight to the tunnel. Cooper slotted up top next to Henry, pushing Le Toux out wide to the right in the 4-4-2 diamond. Connor Lade moved to left back while Jan-Gunnar Solli slid back to right back.
The change looked brilliant 10 minutes later, when Cooper converted in the box. Dax McCarty caught Solli going down the far side and as the Norwegian curls into the ball and crossed it, Cooper struck it with a snap header to get the Red Bulls on the board.
Then in the 45th minute, controversy ensued with the Timbers and referee Jasen Anno. It came when Dax McCarty’s shot hits Timbers defender David Horst in the left arm and the rebound bounded out to Tim Cahill. He took a quick shot and buried it, his first goal in Major League Soccer. Yet Anno blew his whistle just after Cahill hit the ball. Horst was incensed that he heard the whistle blow and argued. A statement came from Jasen Anno after the match, “On the second goal No. 11 Dax McCarty took a shot and it redirected off a Portland player to No. 17 Tim Cahill who shot and scored.” When asked if he blew his whistle he said “Yes, when the ball entered the goal and it was an advantage play”
Watching and listening to the replay I could see that the referee blew his whistle just after Cahill shot the ball and was rushing to call a penalty but changed his mind as soon as he ran towards Horst. The goal stood and the match was leveled at halftime.
Even thought the Red Bulls got three points in this match you can tell in their locker room they were not happy with their performance. They allowed the Timbers space and were lazy with the ball, but there are two big matches coming next week before the International break and first is on the line.