Timbers hand NYCFC first loss of the season with 3-0 win
PORTLAND — With a victory over previously undefeated New York City, the Timbers collected their second win after a disappointing start to the season.
Sebastian Blanco, Fanendo Adi and Larrys Mabiala scored and the Portland Timbers ended New York City FC’s season-opening undefeated streak at seven games with a 3-0 victory Sunday.
“Today’s a great win. We deserve this, 100 percent. We worked really hard the last two games,” Blanco said.
New York City had won five matches and tied two and was the only Eastern Conference team without a loss going into the weekend.
The Timbers have won two straight after going without a victory in their first five matches. Portland opened the season with five straight on the road because of construction at Providence Park.
“They’re a fantastic team. We knew it was going to be a big challenge, and they have been doing really well,” Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said about NYCFC. “But I was really happy with the discipline of our team in how they approached the match, and especially how they worked through the entire match to get a complete result. Very proud of the guys today.”
The match was played as rumors continue to swirl around NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira and the top job at Arsenal. Arsene Wenger announced Friday that he was leaving the Premier League club after 22 years this summer.
A day before his surprise announcement, Wenger was quoted as saying that he felt Vieira had the “potential” to lead Arsenal one day.
A French former midfielder, Vieira played for Arsenal from 1996-2005, scoring 29 goals in 279 appearances.
Former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry, who played for the club for eight seasons and also played for the New York Red Bulls, has also been mentioned as a possible successor to Wenger.
“I just want to talk about the game. I don’t want to talk about anything else,” Vieira said after the match. Pressed, he said: “I don’t have any comment to make. I just want to talk about the game. Nothing else.”
David Villa started and wore the captain’s armband for NYCFC, but he remained just one goal away from reaching 400 total goals for club and country. Only four current players internationally have more: Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Luis Suarez.
Villa had his best chance in the 40th minute but his shot was stopped by Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Antinella.
Villa would not speak to reporters after the game.
Vieira rested Jesus Medina and Yangel Herrera, who were available off the bench against the Timbers. Both had started in each of NYCFC’s previous matches.
Portland started Antinella for the first time this season. He was injured (quad) to start the year.
“A Sunday afternoon game at Providence Park, when the weather’s as nice as it was, is a good way to start your season,” Antinella said. “The guys did really well defensively. We were extremely solid and we limited a dangerous team to not many dangerous chances. So, the team played really well and I was really happy to get the shutout and the win.”
Portland scored in the 27th minute on Blanco’s high-arching header off a corner kick. It was Blanco’s fourth goal of the season. The Timbers extended the lead in the 38th minute when Adi tapped in the rebound after goalkeeper Sean Johnson turned away a shot by Diego Valeri.
Mabiala, a defender, scored on a header off a corner kick in the 66th minute.
Both teams wore special jerseys made of recycled materials to celebrate Earth Day and conclude Major League Soccer’s Greener Goals Week. All 23 teams had new jerseys for Week 8.