Giovanni Savarese guided Portland to a 1-0 win over NYCFC. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
BRONX — Former Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese returned home to New York the conquering hero as his Portland Timbers defeated New York City FC, 1-0, at Yankee Stadium Sunday night.
The result snapped City’s double unbeaten streak at 12 in the league and 14 overall.
“The team deserved more,” head coach Dome Torrent said. “I am very proud of them. It is not easy to play so many games without rest. We are missing some players but is not an excuse, it is a reality.”
Of course, not everyone on NYCFC was happy or proud.
“Right now, I’m not that positive,” defender Anton Tinnerholm said. “We were a little bit sloppy in the first half, we gave away one goal. We have to be better from the start especially at home. Here we are going to dominate the games. We have to be ready. We can’t be down after every single first half.”
Missing eight first-team players, NYCFC played its third match in nine days.
Torrent made two changes to the Starting XI, replacing injured duo Ismael Tajouri-Shradi and Alexandru Mitriță with Ebenezer Ofori and Ben Sweat.
Both players, along with Tony Rocha, Héber, James Sands, and Joe Scally were unavailable for the match with injuries, while Sean Johnson and Alex Callens were competing at the Gold Cup and Copa America, respectively.
Portland scored the lone goal in the 14th minute.
Portland earned a free kick which was curled in by Diego Valeri and finished off by Sebastian Blanco after NYCFC failed to clear.
“In the first half we made one mistake and when you make a mistake in soccer it punishes you,” Torrent said.
Added Savarese, who coached the Cosmos from 2013-2017: “I thought Seba had a great game, not only the things he created offensively with the goal, but also what he did defensively. He committed to making sure we had the result, not only him, but everyone on the field worked very hard to make sure we got what we needed, three points from this game.”
As the hunt for the equalizer ensued, Ronald Matarrita, who made his return from international duty Wednesday night, took a shot at goal from well outside the box in the 28th minute. Goalkeeper Steve Clark made the save.
The hosts earned a corner kick taken by Maxi Moralez in the 42nd minute, which was nearly converted by Taty Castellanos, but his near-post shot just flew the wrong side of the post.
NYCFC almost leveled in the 64th minute as Alex Ring took a shot on goal that deflected back to Valentin Castellanos on the rebound but Clark made the save.
Midweek goalscorer Jesus Medina was introduced from the bench to try and make an impact in the second half and the Paraguayan put together some promising moves. Portland, owever, had hunkered in deep by this stage and always seemed to have a man over to make a block or last-ditch challenge.
“NYCFC is a great team,” Portland defender Marco Farfan. “I just think, like I said, from the start it was a game that we really needed to grind out.”
Added Blanco: “They play very well and not everyone can win here. For us it’s a very good momentum and we need to continue now because we have many [games ahead of us] that are very important games so we feel happy and we will continue working.”