PORTLAND, Ore. — The Red Bulls took a giant step towards qualifying for the MLS playoffs by recording a 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers at Providence Park Wednesday night.
The victory solidified the Red Bulls’ (13-13-5, 44 points) hold on sixth place in the Eastern Conference with three games remaining in the regular season. They need only three points or one more win to clinch a playoff berth.
The result salvaged the Red Bulls’ west coast swing after dropping a 4-2 decision at Seattle Sounders FC Sunday night.
The Timbers (43), who fell into eighth place and a spot from the final postseason berth in the Western Conference, dropped to 13-13-4.
New York, which snapped a three-game losing streak, holds a four-point lead over seventh-place New England (10-10-10, 30) and a seven-point advantage over the Montreal Impact (11-16-4, 37) and Chicago Fire (9-12-10, 37).
Goalkeeper Luis Robles played a solid game in goal, recording his seventh shutout of the season and 70th of his career, although he had some help from Portland. Jeremy Ebobisse had him dead to rights from close range in the 82nd minute but the Timbers player somehow placed his shot wide right of the net.
Right back Kyle Duncan, playing in place of Panamanian international Michael Amir Murillo, lifted the visitors into the lead in the third minute when he beat goalkeeper Steve Clark off a Josh Sims feed. It was Duncan’s first MLS goal.
Duncan turned out to be man of the match for the Red Bulls as he helped set up the second goal. While on an individual dribble on the right side, the defender sent a pass to Marc Rzatkowski. Rzatkowski was fouled by Jorge Moreira in the area and a penalty kick was awarded.
Second-half substitute Daniel Royer converted the spot kick six minutes into added time to give the visitors an insurmountable lead.
In the sixth minute, the Red Bulls almost doubled their margin. Sims had his shot saved. The ball eventually came out to Tom Barlow, who had an open net to shoot out, but defender Bill Tuiloma cleared the ball off the line.
Diego Chara nearly put Portland on the board when he fired a shot off the crossbar in the 19th minute.