After Wednesday's thrashing by Salt Lake, the New York Red Bulls faced a do-or-die match against the visiting Portland Timbers. With both teams hovering around the final wild card spot, a loss would have all but eliminated New York from the playoff race.
With Rafa Marquez suspended by the team for his disparaging comments about his teammates to the media, and defenders Chris Albright and Roy Miller out with injuries, coach Hans Backe turned to Carlos Mendes and Stephen Keel to fill out the back line. Dane Richards danced in a goal in the 21st minute, and a controversial handball red card against Portland's Kalif Alhassan in the 64th minute put NY up 2-0 on a Luke Rodgers penalty. The makeshift defense made the result stand in front of a sold-out crowd, limiting the Timbers to just three shots on goal.
The win pushes RBNY (8-7-15) back into the final wildcard spot, with rivals to the south DC United just a point behind (and with two games in hand). Strangely, the team also finds itself only three points back from the top of the Eastern Conference. With their playoff hopes still alive, the Red Bulls travel to Toronto next Saturday, desperate to solidify their position in the standings.