It was a late afternoon start over at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, Oregon, and it was the debut for two young coaches on both benches. One was promoted while the other was making his professional debut. But as we witnessed a tale of two halves in this wonderfully exciting game, MLS got their money’s worth.
The major pickups for the New York Red Bulls came from the two men who played together at Real Salt Lake as they provided the offense in a wonderful first half. Both Fabien Espindola and Jamison Olave found goal, as it appeared the Red Bulls would cruise to the away three points.
The first saw Espindola receive a gift in the Timbers area, and he converted on sloppy communication in the 9th minute. Former Manchester United defender Mikael Silvestre made an ill-advised back pass to his keeper Donovan Ricketts. The Jamaican touched the ball with his gloves, which could have resulted in an indirect free kick. But Espindola pounced on an advantage from Ricketts’ mishandling and scored.
Espindola’s second goal of the match came in the 24th minute as Silvestre once again made another gaffe. A badly bouncing ball caught Silvestre flat footed, and Espindola picked it up to attack the net. Coming from an angle Espindola wasted no time to bent the ball past Ricketts and inside the far post to regain the lead.
Jamison Olave would be the next to tally his first goal as a Red Bull in the 28th minute to extend the lead to 3-1. After a corner was deflected away, Ruben Bover corralled the ball and went to the near side. Heath Pearce delivered a nice cross, and Olave was in the middle of the area and he put the Red Bulls ahead by a deuce.
But as great as it was to see the Red Bulls with a lead into the intermission, there were some major problems on the backline and sadly they all pointed to one player in Olave who was just dreadful in defending. After Espindola got the early lead he was caught ball watching five minutes later, as Argentinian midfielder Diego Valeri was allowed to juggle with the ball toward net and equalized.
Entering the second half of the match, you saw plenty of energy within the men in green as they were battling, clawing, fighting their way to try and get back into the match. Olave once again ball watched and allowed Darlington Nagbe to get into perfect position to convert a rebound to cut Portland’s deficit to one.
In the 83rd minute it was Jamison “The Statue” Olave again who tried to cover the middle of the Red Bulls defensive area, but sadly a Jose Valencia cross pinged off his left leg and past Robles for an own goal. The Red Bulls were thankful to get out of the Rose City with a point, though it was bitter squandering two that seemed attainable at the half-hour mark.
Caleb Porter did a good job getting his side to deliver a comeback in the second half and salvage a point. For Mike Petke I believe that his in-game management needs some work. But to be honest, he didn’t do a bad job overall and we need to see more out of Petke before snap judgments ruins his first appointment.
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