NYCFC continues losing streak after 2-1 loss to the Portland Timbers

  • NYCFC played against the Portland Timbers in the home opener
  • The team fell 2-1 after late goals from the visitors

NYCFC / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, New York City FC welcomed the Portland Timbers to a gloomy Yankee Stadium.  The weather was not the greatest, but the excitement level was high for the home opener.  Questions and doubt surrounded the team after losing their first two games of the 2024 Major League Soccer season.  Nevertheless, hope still existed.

Since James Sands was out due to his red card against St. Louis City SC, Nick Cushing went with a midfield with Keaton Parks, Andrés Perea, and Santiago Rodríguez.  Meanwhile, Andres Jasson got the surprising start on the wings.  While the American is young, some thought one of the younger international wingers would have gotten the chance. 

Alas, Cushing put out his lineup, and it worked at first.  However, Portland took advantage of an easily gassed NYCFC.  The Pigeons lost their third game in a row, for they fell 2-1

Truthfully, it was a story of two halves.  The home team played a fantastic first half where they were an offensive threat.  The second half had a few bright moments, but a tired and lackluster squad allowed Portland to come back and win in the final minutes of stoppage time.

NYCFC falls 2-1 after Portland’s late game winner

NYCFC came out ready to play.  The high-energy start led the Boys in Blue to attack early on.  Luckily it paid off.

In the 10th minute, Santiago Rodríguez scored the first goal of the 2024 season.  The midfielder had a curler on the ground that hit the post.  Thankfully, the post directed the ball into the back of the net, and the Pigeons went in front early on. 

The first half was impressive and probably the best half by the team so far this year.  They did slow down toward the end of the first 45 minutes, and this allowed Portland to take over.  NYCFC kept them out of goal, and the defense limited their chances.

As mentioned, it was a story of two halves.  While there were some bright moments for the players, there was no question the Timbers took control of most of the game.  They had room to slowly fight back, and in the end, they stole all three points thanks to some incredible late goals.

In the 85th minute, Antony Alves Santos scored an amazing blast from inside the center of the box.  There was nothing Matt Freese could do, and probably nobody in MLS could make the save. 

Then, in the final minutes of stoppage time, it was clear NYCFC was gassed. They were being too easy-going at the end, likely assuming the whistle would blow.  Hence, the Timbers took advantage, and Evander scored the late winner to complete the comeback.  It was a golazo that was difficult to save.  Still, the defense should have closed the player down.

Admittedly, there is the question of why the referee kept allowing play to continue.  The ball went out of play a few times past the six minutes of stoppage time.  There could be some controversy there, but the loss is completely on Cushing’s side.

If the NYCFC of the first half had come out in the second, then they likely would have scored another goal or two.  Mounsef Bakrar was an attacking menace, but most of his attempts were weak or called offside.  In addition, they allowed Portland to take control of the match.  This gave the visitors confidence, and subsequently, the two late goals occurred. 

In all honesty, it is difficult to pinpoint whether the players or Cushing is at fault.  It could be a mix since the energy level dipped tremendously after the first 40 minutes of play.  Yet, when the Timbers started to figure things out, the head coach did not try to switch up tactics.  At least, that was the appearance from watching on TV. 

Three losses in a row is really a bad way to start the season.  There is nothing worse than losing the home opener either.  Someone needs to provide answers, for any patience left by the fans is starting to disappear. 

NYCFC needs to win.