Neville Defeats Cushing As New York City FC Remain Pointless After Portland Timbers Late Show

March 9, 2024
2 mins read
Major League Soccer (MLS) new logo, in New York on September 18, 2014. MLS unveiled the new logo ahead of its 20th season. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad.

By James Nalton.

Two late Portland Timbers goals saw New York City FC fall to a disappointing defeat in their home opener at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Supporters who turned up in the Bronx were stunned, and then annoyed, some angry, as Brazilian winger Antony nabbed an equaliser with five minutes of regular time to play before his compatriot Evander won it deep into added time.

The defeat piles further pressure onto New York City head coach Nick Cushing as a group of players that he admitted had championship quality during the week fell to their third defeat in a row at the start of the new season.

Santi Rodriguez had opened the scoring in a first half that witnessed rare moments of enterprising attacking play from this New York City side this season, but it wasn’t to last.

Portland Timbers, coached by Cushing’s compatriot Phil Neville, came back into the game, or rather they were allowed back into it due to New York City’s inability to capitalise on the periods when they were the better team and attacking regularly.

The Timbers took the chances that NYC couldn’t.

There was an early barrage from the home side, which eventually led to the opening goal, arriving with ten minutes played.

Santi Rodriguez slashed across the ball purposely with his right foot, seeing his shot fade in towards the far post and in off it.

It was an aesthetically pleasing goal, and for Cushing it was much more than that.

Criticism of the coach had started to pour in after two road defeats produced no goals and only three shots on target.

Back in the Bronx, City began their home opener with great attacking intent. After around a quarter of an hour, they had already had more shots on target in this game than in the previous two combined.

They looked like City so often do at home. Compact, backing each other up, and making things happen in attack, but this was not sustained for long enough.

Mounsef Bakrar had a couple of opportunities, but more composure is needed if his good preparation and movement are to be followed up with an assist or a goal.

Portland had a great early chance to get back into the game when Andres Perea lost the ball near his own area. It eventually made its way to Antony but the Portland winger made a mess of his shot.

Bakrar was in a great position once again as New York City started the second half with a brief burst of attacks. This time he opted to square the ball but it was intercepted.

The next chance for Bakrar was flagged for offside, and the next one, as he rounded Maxime Crepeau and blasted into the roof of the net, was also called back for offside.

The Algerian forward demonstrated an ability to push past defenders through initial good movement before getting his body in advantageous positions between man and ball.

He did pretty much everything except get his name on the scoresheet.

What happened next, from NYC’s point of view, was a classic case of not finishing the job when they had the chance.

Juan Mosquera gained a yard or two on the right wing, cut the ball inside right through the area and this time Antony struck his shot sweetly.

Then, seven minutes into eight of added time, Evander curled and dipped a shot into the corner from outside the area on the left. It was a strike worthy of winning any game.

It meant New York City remain without a win. Without as much as a point.

It was a game they perhaps should have won, but given they were unable to finish the chances that fell their way after the opening goal, it cannot accurately be said they deserved to.

Teams that deserve to win take their chances, and Neville’s Portland took theirs to claim a dramatic late victory.

James Nalton

Freelance world soccer writer for Forbes, Guardian US, World Soccer magazine, FotMob, the BBC, and the Morning Star newspaper.

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