Kyle Duncan excelled on the field for the Red Bulls. (Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)
PORTLAND, Ore. — One of the youngest Red Bulls players made the biggest impact.
Right back Kyle Duncan scored the first goal and helped set up a penalty kick for the visitors, who recorded a vital 2-0 road win at the Portland Timbers at Providence Park Wednesday night.
The result helped the Red Bulls snap a three-game losing streak and move closer to qualifying for the MLS Cup playoffs for the 10th consecutive season.
New York can clinch a spot by defeating the Philadelphia Union Sunday. The club also can reach the postseason with a Montreal loss at the LA Galaxy, a Chicago defeat at FC Cincinnati and either an Orlando City SC tie or loss at Houston.
The sixth-place Red Bulls can thank the 22-year-old Duncan for putting them in that position.
“He’s growing quickly and we remind ourselves as a young guy around here still in terms of MLS games played, but he shows up every day and he works at his game and he cares a lot about the team and he plays USL games,” Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas said. “He takes a real professional approach. So, we ask him to be aggressive, we ask him to be tight on plays like that and not only to be up the field, but to sneak in front and get in good spots. So, to see him bury it and to see what it meant to him, that’s a little … we’re all proud of him.”
Duncan, who has totalled 874 minutes over 10 games this season, tallied his first goal of the season in the third minute, becoming the 18th Red Bull to find the net. That equalled the MLS season record, set by D.C. United in 2016.
He also set up Daniel Royer’s penalty kick in stoppage time, which sealed the win. Duncan raced down the right flank unimpeded. He then crossed the ball to Marc Rzatkowski, who was fouled in the box.
“He showed tonight why we have a lot of belief in him and why he’s been getting called into the [United States] U-23 men’s national team,” Red Bulls captain and goalkeeper Luis Robles said. “It’s no accident. He has a lot of quality and you can see the goal that he scored, it almost held up as the game-winner. We got the penalty kick, but he had a great game and it’s one of those games that’s going to continue to build his confidence.
“He has a really high ceiling. So for him, he has to keep his head down, continue to work hard and I feel like we’re going to see more of those games on a consistent basis for years to come.”