Touch of class sees New York City FC knock off Champions
In a game of moments, New York had the better ones over Portland. (Photo credit: Brandon Farris/VAVEL USA)

Touch of class sees New York City FC knock off Champions

It came down to a few moments of magic that New York City FC were able to produce that separated them from the Portland Timbers.

Ivan Sanchez-Carrasco

Entering Sunday’s nationally televised showcase between the defending MLS Cup Champion Portland Timbers and MLS hotshots New York City FC, the two teams were going in different directions. The Timbers, the home team, were coming off back to back defeats in which they scored first in both occasions only to see one goal leads slip away, leaving Portland empty handed. NYCFC, on the other hand, had started to build momentum and had rattled off two wins in a row while climbing up the Eastern Conference standings, showing signs that the ideas of manager Patrick Viera were starting to work.

Straight from the gate it was the home side who were the more aggressive and looked to use the energy of the rocking home fans of Providence Park to take the game to the visiting team from the Bronx. As the spring rain drops drizzled over the Portland skies, it lead to a slick, quick, and surprising surface. No more was it evident than early in the game when a cross that was whipped into the box took a bounce off the turf and lead to NYCFC goalkeeper Josh Saunders making a mess of the ball. It fell to Diego Valeri, who went close.

A pass to die for

David Villa continues his great from in MLS. (Photo credit: Brandon Farris/VAVEL USA)

While it was Portland who were the more aggressive team it was New York City which found the net first. As US international Darlington Nagbe was near the halfway line, the ball bounced off New York defender RJ Allen. The debate will remain as to whether or not a handball should have been called, with his arms in a natural state and the speed at which the play occurred it would have been unlucky for a handball to be called. Instead, Allen collected the ball and delivered a tantalizing pass that split the Timbers centerbacks and found David Villa in stride and a step ahead of his defenders for the forward to deliver the type of cool back post finish only a world class talent can produce. Portland dominated the remainder of the half as it controlled possession, the passing, and produced a few good chances, but  nothing came off it as Sauders was up to the challenge in goal.

Adi celebrating Portland's equalizer. (Brandon Farris/VAVEL USA)

Portland came out in the second half the same way it ended the first: with their foot on the gas and the pressure high. Their hard work and good play finally came to fruition as Fernando Adi powered his way though the backline and fired a shot that deflected off a defender and into the back of the net to level things up.

A few touches make all the difference

As Portland looked like the team more likely to break the dead lock, 10 minutes after their equalizer a through ball was played for Lucas Melano. His first touch let him down though and took away his strongest asset: his speed. A minute later after a fabulous tackle from NYCFC, the baby blues got the ball on the other end of the pitch. A long cross found Andrea Pirlo near the 18, and a simple outside of the foot pass to Thomas McNamara was all the player needed to score an absolutely tasty goal that curved and looped into the upper corner of the far net and gave New York a 2-1 lead.

It has been a rough week for Portland manager Caleb Porter. (Photo credit: Brandon Farris/VAVEL USA) 

Unfortunately for the Timbers, they lacked the little bit off class that New York when searching for another equalizer. While they were still able to produce chances, they were unable to do anything with them and in retrospect will be kicking themselves for being unable to take at least a point away from the match. At the same time, it’s hard to feel bad for a team who was unable to take advantage of the chances they were able to create.

The win now puts the second year team tied with Montreal for first place in the Eastern Conference. However, they're given little time to reflect on their current success as they travel over the border for a big time matchup against Toronto FC this midweek. A few days later, they face city rivals New York Red bulls.

After losing 2-1 three times within a matter of nine days, Portland will now have a week to gear up for a Cascadia clash with the Vancounver Whitecaps to try and get their season back on track.