Portland Goals: Valeri 44mins
A Quick Look
New York City FC slipped to a first defeat in the Bronx for five months as Diego Valeri's 44th minute goal was enough to win the day for the Portland Timbers.
Despite spending long stretches in the visitors' defensive third, the Boys in Blue could not find the killer blow and were punished against the run of play on the stroke of half-time.
NYCFC remains in second place in the Eastern Conference, nine points behind Toronto and five clear of Chicago, holding a 15-8-5 record through 28 games.
There's nothing quite like a double game week at Yankee Stadium...
NYCFC returned to the scene of Wednesday night's 1-0 win over Sporting KC just 72 hour later where Western Conference high-flyers Portland Timbers were the visitors.
Buoyed by his 85th minute winning goal in the afore-mentioned clash, Jack Harrison, fielded as the no.9 in the absence of David Villa, went close to netting his 10th goal of the season inside the opening 5' but his long ranger just faded away from the target.
This promising start continued for the hosts as RJ Allen got in behind the Portland backline and delivered a dangerous cut-back which was smuggled off the toes of both Rodney Wallace and Harrison courtesy of some last ditch defending.
Chicago Fire's draw with Red Bulls had given NYC the opportunity to move eight points clear of their nearest rivals for the final automatic MLS Playoffs berth and they certainly started this one like they sensed the opportunity to put one foot safely into the post-season.
Referee Ismail Elfath had a huge call to make on 22' when David Guzman appeared to drag down Maxi Moralez when the Argentine was through on goal.
Perhaps the official believed that the other defender would have had the opportunity to come around and make the challenge but it looked like a dubious one to say the least.
Andrea Pirlo came close to punishing Portland with the resulting free-kick but Jeff Attinella made the double-fisted diving save.
The dominance of Vieira's men continued but went without reward through the first period but Timbers would have opened the scoring against the run of play, if not for Sean Johnson's stunning save from Roy Miller's goalbound header.
It proved to be just a momentary reprieve as Portland did score the game's first goal through Valeri in the dying minutes of the half, capitalizing after Pirlo had been pickpocketed by Darren Mattocks.
NYCFC had been here before on a number of occasions in 2017 only to come back and take all the points, so all was not lost as Elfath sounded the half-time whistle.
Attinella was called into action inside the first two minutes of the second period as he flung himself to his right to deny Frederic Brillant's header which had looked destined for the bottom corner.
It really was turning into a case of "everything but the finish" and Portland were looking to make good on even their tiniest glimmers of half-chances as they so nearly did on 55' when Johnson produced another exceptional reflex stop to deny Vytas at the near post.
A minute later, Harrison fizzed in a shot which had to be parried around the post, before Johnson came to the rescue once more on 64' with yet another world class save, denying Valeri his second goal of the game.
Sean Ugo Okoli was introduced with 25 minutes remaining but it was Moralez who was next to go within inches of an equalizer, curling his free-kick up and down over the wall but just past the angle of post and crossbar.
There was time left for a strong penalty appeal when Stertzer appeared to be pushed but it wasn't to be and NYCFC went down to a first home defeat in five months.
Vieira was not happy with the referee's decision to only show a yellow card to Guzman after he felled Moralez early in the first half.
It's easy to see why, as surely the Argentine would have gone on and had a golden opportunity to open the scoring without the shirt tugs and the slide which stopped him in his tracks.
It was a big call for Elfath and the replays suggested that perhaps it was one that the official would want to make again if he had the chance.
Man of the Match
Not for the first time this season, the NYCFC goalkeeper was a man mountain between the sticks, making at least three first-class saves to keep his team within range.
Although this was a game which the Boys in Blue dominated, for the most part, they were indebted to their goalkeeper on many occasions as he made crucial stops from Blanco, Valeri and Vytas.
Social Post of the Game
Stats and Milestones
- NYCFC now have a 15-8-5 record through 28 games.
- New signing Andraz Struna was named in a matchday squad for the first time
- This was the first time NYCFC hasn't scored a goal in a Regular Season game at Yankee Stadium since May 2016
- NYCFC lost at Yankee Stadium for the first time since April (ten games)
- The home team's unbeaten streak ends at five games
- NYCFC only has one game at Yankee Stadium remaining in 2017 (10/22 vs. Columbus)
How They Lined Up
New York City FC Head Coach Patrick Vieira made two changes to the team which defeated Sporting KC in midweek.
NYCFC are back at it next Saturday when we go on the road to Colorado to take on the Rapids - our next home game is at the Pratt & Whitney Stadium on September 23 where Houston Dynamo are our opponents. Get your tickets below...