Moments from 2012: Pearce Delivers the Game-Winner Against Portland

From now until the end of the year, we’re revisiting some of the top moments from the Red Bulls’ 2012 season. In this installment, we’ll take a look back at Heath Pearce’s game-winning efforts against the Portland Timbers.

 Nearly one month to the day in which he scored his first-career MLS goal, Red Bulls defender Heath Pearce came up big once again to cap off a New York comeback against the Portland Timbers.

To say the Aug. 19 home match against the Timbers got off to a rough start would be an understatement. Just eight minutes in, the Red Bulls found themselves down 1-0 and in risk of seeing their home win streak come to an end after Portland’s Bright Dike sent home a slick pass through the box, courtesy of Sal Zizzo.

Watch: Pearce Wins it for NY

Unable to muster up an answer for the early goal, the Red Bulls watched as their attempts at formulating an attack were thwarted by Portland’s 4-5-1, defensive stance.  Things took a turn for the worse when in the 32nd minute, Darlington Nagbe doubled up for Portland after he found the far post on a soft shot that trickled past a diving Bill Gaudette.

Heading into the final five minutes of the first half, it seemed like the Red Bulls would be forced to enter the locker room down 2-0. But then lightning struck; twice.

Kenny Cooper  drew blood against his former club when he buried a header off an accurate, on-the-mark cross from Jan Gunnar Solli in the 43rd minute to pull New York within one. Two minutes later, it was Tim Cahill tallying his first-career MLS goal to level the score and send the teams into the half locked in a 2-2 draw.

From that point on, it was all Red Bulls soccer. The defense locked down and the offense created chances, but still the hopes of cracking the tie in an effort to secure three points came up empty - until the 83rd minute, that is.

Following a Thierry Henry corner, the Red Bulls gained possession inside the Portland zone and worked the ball around. Cooper fought hard to maintain control after a failed Timbers clear and sent it back to the top corner of the box to a waiting Solli. The Norwegian midfielder sent a nice ball into the box to meet Pearce, who snapped a header into the net past a diving Donovan Ricketts to tie off the comeback and seal the win for New York.