Big Night From Valeri Lifts Portland Over Red Bulls

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Diego Valeri got his 51st career goal and 51st career assist in the same game.

Valeri, the 18th player in the league to reach 50 of each, scored one goal and assisted on the other in a 2-0 Portland Timbers’ victory over the New York Red Bulls on Friday night.

The Red Bulls, who had won five of their previous six games, rested Bradley Wright-Phillips after a short turnaround because of a U.S. Open Cup semifinal earlier in this week.

Valeri’s goal in the 66th minute tied him with Fanendo Adi for the most in franchise history across all eras. He leads all Portland scorers this season.

“A nice goal, and quality. And we needed it in that moment,” Valeri said. “They were pressing us really well, I think they played in a very aggressive way. We knew we needed to fight for it and we got the result.”

Second-half sub Darren Mattocks added a goal — his second of the season — for the Timbers just as stoppage time ran out at the end. Valeri fed the ball to Mattocks.

The Timbers were 2-2-1 in their previous five games, including a 4-1 loss at Toronto last weekend. With the win, Portland (10-9-7) moved into third place in the Western Conference. The Red Bulls (12-10-2) sit in fourth in the East.

New York was coming off a 3-2 come-from-behind U.S. Open Cup semifinal victory over FC Cincinnati on Tuesday night.

The Red Bulls didn’t bring in midfielder Sacha Kljestan until the second half, and left Wright-Phillips on the bench for the duration. Midfielder Daniel Royer missed his second game with a knee injury.

Kljestan leads the league with 12 assists this season, while Wright-Phillips is ranked third with 14 goals, tied with Valeri.

The Red Bulls lost defender Aurelien Collin in the 27th minute, and coach Jesse Marsch said after the game he’d been struggling with plantar fasciitis. The fact that Collin had to be subbed out so early played a role in Marsch deciding to keep Wright-Phillips out at the end.

“Obviously if you could’ve had them both (Wright-Phillips and Kljestan) on in the end, you would have really had a chance to go after it. But it’s also good for Brad to get some rest, he’s put a lot of work in,” Marsch said.

Valeri, who scored the lone goal last week in the loss to the Reds, took a pass from Diego Chara in the corner and caught New York goalkeeper Luis Robles off guard from atop the box.

“Diego, I don’t know how he won it, but he made a run and a great cross. Really unbelievable. I was looking at him and knew he was going to play that ball, and I made the movement and just finished it,” Valeri said.

In a scoreless first half, the Timbers couldn’t manage to break through despite a few good opportunities, including Darlington Nagbe’s shot from some 20 yards out in the 39th minute that caromed off the crossbar.

Portland defender Larrys Mabiala was sent off with a red card in the 80th minute after pulling New York’s Gonzalo Veron down outside the penalty box. Fidel Escobar’s free kick went just wide.

Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella was able to deflect Sal Zizzo’s header in the 90th minute before Mattocks’ goal as time ran out.

Robles, New York’s captain for the game, made his club-record 164th start.

“I’m really proud of our group. Had the game on our terms. Looked like our team, playing so many new guys — to have them all understand their roles and play so well in a really tough place to play against a good team, a good attacking team that we kept at bay for most of the game — I love this team. This team has a lot to it and its deep and there’s a lot of good things with our group right now,” Marsch said.

The Red Bulls will visit Sporting Kansas City in the U.S. Open Cup championship game Sept. 20.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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