The New York Red Bulls clinched a playoff spot after they shutout the Portland Timbers 2-0 on Sunday afternoon.
The Red Bulls had a very tough 2-1 loss on Wednesday to the New England Revolution, and traveled across the country after that game to one of the toughest places to play in the MLS, Portland.
The top of the Eastern Conference standings are changing rapidly between the Red Bulls, New England, Columbus Crew, and DC United.
The Red Bulls moved in to the top spot with the victory in Portland, as they now have 48 points (14-8-6), followed by Columbus with 47 (13-9-8), New England with 46 (13-10-7), and DC with 45 points (13-11-6).
The Red Bulls dominated this game from the start, and they broke through late in the first half. Felipe got his third goal of the season off a feed from Kemar Lawrence in the 43rd minute, and in extra time of the first half, in the 47th minute, Damien Perrinelle scored off a set up from Scha Kljestan to make it 2-0 Red Bulls.
Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch said of the overall match, “It was a very good first half specifically, but a very good performance to get a shutout against a team like this in an environment like this on the road. I think we showed a lot of things. I think we showed that when we are committed to play the way we want to play that we can really command the game. We showed that we’re a deep team and that when guys step on the field that they are talented and they know their roles. We showed that this team has heart and belief in what they are and who they are. There have been a lot of difficult situations we’ve been in this year. We weren’t happy with the performance in New England, for these guys to come back and lay it all out here like this and empty the tank certainly shows a lot about their character.”
Marsch said of the Red Bulls coming out strong after playing two games in one week and flying across the country, “I think we’re fit. We’re deep and we’re young. We have a bunch of guys who can recover quickly, who can cover a lot of ground, who can make the game fast and then there is some talent on the field too. That’s for sure. Now we’re able to create a pace of game and then give our guys time and space you can see some of the things they can do. Certainly thought Shaun Wright-Phillips and Gonzalo [Verón] in the first half really made it hard on their defense and were showing up all over the place. Those guys had a great game. Sean Davis stepped in and didn’t skip a beat. [He] looked like a five-year [professional] and a guy that had been in the lineup all year. Sal Zizzo for a guy who is a converted right back I thought his understanding of how to play the position was fantastic. Overall, [it was] really good.”
Red Bulls goaltender Luis Robles got his ninth shutout of the season and the 28th of his career, continuing to add the franchise record he set earlier this season. His 100 consecutive starts is the second-longest iron man streak in MLS history, behind only Kevin Hartman’s 112. Robles is the only player to make 100 consecutive starts for the same franchise in league history.
Robles said of playing the way they did on short rest and coming across the county, “We had a couple of obstacles to overcome. Dax [McCarty] and Connor [Lade] couldn’t play because of yellow card accumulation but this is also a good example of the belief in this team. It’s the next man on knowing that they’re going to be able to not only do well in the task but succeed and help the team succeed. So, for Felipe to have such an amazing goal and also for those guys to come in as well as I think Shaun Wright-Phillips and Gonzalo, they stepped in and did great. Today was a complete team performance. It’s going to be a lot sweeter getting on a plane with three points but with that being said it’s also a short week because we play Orlando on Friday.”
Marsch said of Robles’ performance, “He was disappointed with his game in New England. He let in a soft goal, the first one, one that is very uncharacteristic of him. Obviously [he] makes an incredible save at the end of the game but I thought overall his presence in the goal for when to punch, when to catch, speaking with his line in front of him, when to be off his line to make sure their fast guys weren’t getting on the end of everything, [it was a] pretty complete performance from him.”
Red Bulls Midfielder Sacha Kljestan said of playing the way they did on short rest and coming across the county, “So, this is the second time where we’ve had a midweek game and then another game on the weekend where we lose the midweek game and then right after the game Jesse says ‘not a great performance but if we go into the weekend and we win it’s going to make us forget about that loss and we have to put our stamp on the game. We have to play our game.’ Tonight was really a team performance. I think in the first half we played so well, we overwhelmed them. They couldn’t do anything in the first half and we put two unbelievable goals in. The second half we kind of just defended for our lives because that’s when the fatigue started to kick in but overall a great performance.”