The NBA and NHL playoffs raged on.
The Kentucky Derby, the greatest two minutes in sports, presented the first jewel of the Triple Crown to Rich Strike.
And the New York Red Bulls welcomed the Portland Timbers to Red Bull Arena for the first time in over four years. That previous meeting, a home opener for the 2018 season, yielded a win and an impressive debut (a young padawan named Ben Mines). RBNY hosted Star Wars night– there were fans in costume and music from the motion picture echoing across the arena. While the atmosphere was jubilant, it couldn’t push the home team to their first home win.
The Council was impressed, of course
Within the first ten minutes, Dylan Nealis offered the first chance for New York, but his header went over the bar. Frankie Amaya’s shot was slightly off-frame in the 15th minute. A takedown outside the box at about the half-hour mark put a free kick in a great spot, but an apparent communication breakdown sent the ball straight to Portland keeper David Bingham. This was clear again moments later when a cross by John Tolkin went untouched by the attack. This combined with the sheer number of challenges that held down Lucas “Luquinhas” Linares kept the home team off the scoreboard for much of the game.
Their response, it didn’t thrill us
Portland’s Yimmy Chara led the first real attack on Carlos Coronel’s goal, but the ball sailed above the net. Chara’s second attempt went just wide. As another wave of rain fell on the pitch, the Timbers continued to disrupt the Red Bulls. Slightly frustrated squads went into the locker room following a scoreless half. With more than a little desperation from both sides, the second half began with wide open play. The Timbers struck first with a sneaky ball into the net in the 53rd minute by Jarosław Niezgoda. New York attempted an immediate response, but Portland’s disruptions held them at bay. Forward Tom Barlow, who had more than a few chances throughout the match, could only find the side netting.
Could he bring balance to the Force?
Aaron Long, aerial attacker and set piece extraordinaire, cleaned up a header from Nealis to level the match (67’). From that point on, the run of play continued to tip in favor of the home team. With the addition of Omir Fernandez (72’) and Zach Ryan (81’), the Red Bull attack continued to build. But time was not on their side. Even with six minutes of stoppage time, the Red Bulls could only salvage a single point. Even though their midi-chlorians are off the scale on the road, the home results still evade Struber’s Jedi knights. Do we sense in them much fear? Or will they yet fulfill that prophecy? A trip to DC for the next round of the Open Cup and followed by a run-in with Philly will tell the next chapters.