New York City Football Club tied Portland Timbers 1-1 on Saturday.
A first-half strike from Portland's Evander put the hosts a goal up before a Keaton Parks header restored parity.
Here are Five Points from Portland...
Keaton Parks stood up to be counted when his team needed him most on Saturday.
The midfielder produced a brilliant header early into the second half against the Portland Timbers. Parks’ leap and timing were perfect, and served as the catalyst to NYCFC’s most sustained period of pressure on the night.
“I think we've been fighting every single game to the last minute and I'm just happy I can contribute to this in some way and get a goal tonight,” Parks said.
“I want to be on the scoresheet more I want to assist more. So I'm happy to be able to do that and get the opportunity to play.”
A Long Week
Seven days, three games, over 3000 miles travelled.
It’s been a long week for NYCFC with three difficult games nestled alongside significant travel demands. Trips to Atlanta and Portland placed physical demands on the players, and while this is the nature of MLS, it doesn’t make the task any easier.
It tested the group physically and mentally, but in the wake of those challenges emerges a group that is unified and focused on their goal - to win games and climb the table. That clarity will be vital as we move into the next phase of the campaign.
As Nick Cushing said afterward, the point at Portland was a positive. The team’s desire to win football games hasn’t diminished, but if you can’t win the game then make sure you don’t lose it either, and that’s what NYCFC did.
The team is navigating a difficult moment as a newly assembled squad continues to gel and learn more about each other. It speaks to the Club’s ambitions and performances that draws have felt like losses lately, but by collecting points on the road the team is keeping its playoff hopes alive.
"I think ultimately coming into these places is incredibly difficult," Cushing said.
"I mean, just the travel distance alone - going from Atlanta to Portland, Wednesday to Saturday - I think the nature of our league is if you go to these places and you pick up a point it's not so bad.
"We obviously want to win but I think the nature of the run we're on it feels disappointing because we want to win a football game but to go one nil down in Portland and come away with a point we have to look at the positives.”
The physically demanding nature of the last seven days has meant managing the workload of the roster has been critical.
Cushing made five changes to the side that took on Atlanta midweek, including a switch at goalkeeper with Matt Freese as well as the return of Maxime Chanot in defense. All five players performed admirably and reinforced the strength and depth throughout the roster.
Matías Pellegrini has been a diligent performer since his arrival at NYCFC.
The midfielder’s industry has earned him many admirers, but on Saturday he was able to record a first assist with the Boys in Blue. His delightful cross for Keaton Parks was the product of hours of hard work and practice on the training pitch, and sparked the team’s attack into life.
Pellegrini didn’t abandon his defensive responsibilities in the wake of his first assist and showed the kind of complete performance that will make him a difficult man to leave out of the team.
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