BRONX | For the third straight match, New York City FC suffered late-game heartbreak.
Dairon Asprilla’s shot in the 79th minute took a deflection and agonizingly ended up in the back of the net as the Portland Timbers eked out a 1-0 victory in front of 21,891 on Sunday evening at Yankee Stadium.
New York City FC falls to 1-3-3 (6 points) while Portland improves to 2-2-3 (9 points).
Darlington Nagbe picked up the ball near midfield and darted forward. He made it as far as the 18-yard box before Jeb Brovsky slid in to knock the ball away. New York City FC couldn’t clear the danger as Gaston Fernandez latched onto it. The ball squirted further to the path of Asprilla, who let loose a shot that took a deflection off defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe and went into the net.
"The result doesn’t match the performance we had," midfielder Sebastian Velasquez said. "I think we played great football today -- we had the ball, kept the ball and created chances. We were just unlucky. To have their goal on a deflection .. things just aren’t going our way. We have stick together. We’re a family and in tough times this is where you have to keep your head up, stick together and keep motivated."
"I think it’s really important we try to recognize the results aren’t going our way but the performances are," head coach Jason Kreis said. "I’ve been around this league long enough to know that if the performances continue like this, then the results are right around the corner."
New York City FC also suffered disappointing finishes their prior two matches to the Philadelphia Union. On April 11, Vincent Nogueira’s goal in the 92nd minute propelled the Union to a 2-1 victory at PPL Park. Five days later at Yankee Stadium, C.J. Sapong’s equalizer in the 86th saw the teams share the points.
On Sunday night, New York City FC came out the aggressor, despite being without three starters. Captain David Villa (hamstring), midfielder Mix Diskerud (ankle) and defender Jason Hernandez (calf) were all sidelined. Khiry Shelton and Javier Calle made their second-consecutive starts, while former New England Revolution teammates Patrick Mullins and Tony Taylor (debut) began the match up top.
Mullins’ left-footed blast in the 16th was the best chance early on, but Portland goalie Adam Kwarasey punched it away. The keeper was vital again, putting Ned Grabavoy under pressure to block his shot in the 28th.
The teams went into the locker room scoreless at halftime.
Portland put the home side under pressure early in the second half. New York City FC was called for a deliberate back pass, setting up the Timbers with a direct free kick near the 18-yard box. Fanendo Adi’s blast was deflected by Watson-Siriboe for a corner.
New York City FC had a great chance to take the advantage in the 58th. Medhi Ballouchy held up the ball like a quarterback in the pocket waiting for a receiver to get open as Mullins made a darting run between two defenders into the box. The midfielder threaded the needle, but Mullins shot was pushed away by Kwarasey.
"We have to stay focused and positive," Watson-Siriboe said. "Staying positive is the most important thing. We’re a brand new team. A lot of people want us to have success. We’re in New York where the bright lights are, but we have to be patient and be realistic with the progression we’ve had. We have to put our heads down and keep working hard. It isn’t how you start, it’s how you finish."
New York City FC returns to action on Friday against the Chicago Fire. Kickoff from Toyota Park is set for 8 p.m. EDT.