In an interconference bout between two teams on the outside looking in on the MLS Cup playoffs, the Portland Timbers and New York City FC played to stalemate, 1-1, on Saturday night at Providence Park.
The Timbers (5-8-7, 22 points) showed flashes on the attack, but truly dangerous moments were far and few between. NYCFC (4-7-9, 21 points) was even less proficient with the ball, save for its lone goal.
The first half was a slog, with neither team able to create much with the ball at its feet. NYCFC had just one shot to Portland’s seven.
The Timbers’ first chance came in the fifth minute, a curling ball in from Juan David Mosquera that reached Franck Boli, but Boli couldn’t turn it on-target.
Portland had a few more attempts in the 11th minute, but they were all blocked or off-target.
After plenty of action in the middle third of the field — with not much of a pulse for either side on the attack — Evander injected life into the match with a goal in the 38th minute.
Marvin Loría struggled with a ball in the center of the box, and after a few touches he played it back to Evander, who stepped up and put one beyond the keeper’s grasp to make it 1-0 Timbers.
Boli had a run at another chance in the 41st minute, but it was deflected away. Portland went into the half up a goal and buoyed by its ability to limit NYCFC in their end.
The Timbers brought on rookie Noel Caliskan for Cristhian Paredes at the half. Paredes took a knock on a free kick midway through the first half, and he has played a significant load of minutes in the last two months. This was Portland’s third match in eight days.
Larrys Mabiala picked up a yellow card in the 50th minute for the Timbers, setting up a NYCFC free kick from just outside the box. That free kick led to the tying goal in the 51st minute, a header by Keaton Parks after a miscommunication at the back by Portland.
Santiago Rodríguez had a dangerous shot for NYCFC in the 65th minute, but his powerful strike went just high of the crossbar.
Claudio Bravo picked up a yellow card for Portland in the 70th minute, setting up a free kick from the edge of the box for NYCFC that the road side was not able to produce anything out of.
Felipe Mora made his season debut for the Timbers in the 75th minute, replacing Loría. It was the first match in nearly 11 months for Mora, who had been recovering from two separate knee procedures including cartilage restoration surgery. The crowd showered Mora in plenty of applause as he came on.
Mora was inches from scoring in his first few minutes as Evander curled a shot in that was saved, and Mora was about a step away from being in position to put it back on the rebound.
Santiago Moreno had a clear look at the ball in the 85th minute, but his shot from a dangerous area ended up wide.
Portland had a pair of serious chances in the final moments of stoppage time, the first a powerful shot from Mosquera that spilled out of the keeper’s hands and barely missed at the far post. The second came on a free kick by Evander, who put a ball toward the top corner that hit the outside of the post as the final whistle blew.
Next up: The Timbers head on the road to face Minnesota United. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. PT July 1 with a live broadcast on the Apple TV app with a subscription to MLS Season Pass.