When New York claims to fight, scratch, and claw for every point, they mean it.
The scoring came fast and furious in a turbulent tilt at the cozy confines of Jeld-Wen Field on Sunday evening as the Red Bulls escaped with a 3-3 draw over the expansion Portland Timbers. Moments after Thierry Henry received a straight red card for a bad foul, Dwayne De Rosario scored a penalty kick in stoppage time to salvage the draw for a Red Bulls side that was moments away from seeing an own goal by defender Stephen Keel prove to be the game winner.
Austin da Luz converted a De Rosario cross five minutes in for his first career MLS goal, but the Timbers answered back with successive strikes by Jack Jewsbury and Kevin Goldthwaite that came about three and four minutes after halftime. Following Keel's gaffe, Henry delivered a goal from the left tip of the six-yard box to draw NY within one.
The draw gives New York a one-point edge over the Philadelphia Union atop the Eastern Conference with 23 points and a 5-2-8 record along with a six-game unbeaten streak.
Seeing Red. In a match that saw New York collect 25 fouls and five cards compared to Portland's five and two respectively, the coup de grace came in stoppage time as referee Ricardo Salazar issued a straight red card to Henry for slapping Adam Moffat in the back of the head during a verbal altercation. That disqualifies Henry from participating in their next match against Seattle on Thursday, and leaves Red Bulls coach Hans Backe with a gaping hole leading his side's attack.
New York kicked things off in the Rose City with bad news up top. Forward Luke Rodgers did not travel with the club to Portland and is expected to miss at least Thursday's match against the Sounders due to plantar faciitis. Also, a United States win over Jamaica in the Gold Cup quarterfinals means Juan Agudelo remains out of the Red Bulls' picture indefinitely.
The return of De Rosario -- who started alongside Henry at forward -- eased New York's depth problems on Sunday, but Backe will need to uncover creative solutions with the cavalry so far from shouting distance.
Play of the Game: Jewsbury's Goal. Portland did not register an attempt on goal until the 45' minute when Jewsbury headed a Kenny Cooper cross high and wide left of the net. Portland kept the passing pace with the surgical Red Bulls attack, but they simply could not create any kind of offensive pressure in the final third before halftime.
Jewsbury changed all that three minutes into the second half. The Timbers captain picked up Jan Gunnar Solli's poorly-directed header to the right of the arc and fired a low shot through traffic that wound up inside the far post. In addition to drawing the Timbers level with NY, it sparked the dormant Timbers Army into reminding the Red Bulls why Jeld-Wen Field can be such a tough place to play.
Keeling Over. Any chance for a Red Bulls comeback appeared slim when Jorge Perlaza directed a cross though the box in the 67' minute. A sprinting Stephen Keel looked to obstruct Perlaza's cross, but accidentally directed it into the wrong net for an own goal. It didn't help that Roy Miller was out of position on the play, either.
No part of the Red Bulls fell apart so completely after Jewsbury's goal as the back line did. Keel's misdirection merely added the exclamation point to it.
Fighting Spirit. Thierry Henry stopped the Timbers onslaught in the 73' minute with his league-leading eighth-goal of the season. Henry then followed Joel Lindpere into the net to retrieve the ball and rush it back to the center circle, only to incite a fracas with Timbers players who took offense to being shown up on their own pitch.
Even with the floodgates open, post-goal antics by Lindpere and Henry should remind the Red Bulls supporters that their club refused to go down without a fight.
Spot Check. The 2011 MLS season has seen six penalty kicks awarded -- with the Red Bulls being involved in all six. They missed two chances before De Ro's goal and saved three, which includes a Jack Jewsbury PK that bounced off the right post late in the second half.
The Red Bulls will remain out west for the time being as they prepare for Thursday's match against the Seattle Sounders at Qwest Field. First kick is scheduled for 10:00 p.m.