Richards, Rodgers lead NY to crucial win

Dane Richards scored in the first half and Luke Rodgers converted a penalty kick in the second half to lead the New York Red Bulls to a crucial 2-0 victory over the Portland Timbers on Saturday night.

The Red Bulls (8-7-15) pulled into a tie for fourth place with Houston in the Eastern Conference with four matches to go. It was the first home win for New York since beating Toronto 5-0 on July 6.

Portland (10-13-7) dropped two points behind New York in the race for a wild card playoff berth. The loss snapped the Timbers’ five-game unbeaten streak (3-0-2). However, Portland has not had any success on the road, falling to 1-9-4 away from home.

The Red Bulls played with an aggressive sense of urgency from the opening minutes, attacking the ball with authority and keeping the play in the Portland end of the field for most of the contest.

The Red Bulls played without standout defender Rafa Marquez, who was suspended for one game by head coach Hans Backe for criticizing his teammates after last Wednesday’s loss to Real Salt Lake.