The visiting New York Red Bulls scored in the third minute and on a penalty kick in second-half stoppage time Wednesday night for an important 2-0 win over the struggling Portland Timbers.
New York's defense survived three golden opportunities for the Timbers to score.
The Red Bulls (13-13-5, 44 points) stayed in sixth place in MLS' Eastern Conference, and they now need just one win in their last three regular-season matches to clinch a playoff spot.
The game was more important to the Timbers (13-13-4, 43 points), who dropped out of playoff position with their fourth loss in the past six matches, all at home. Thanks to an FC Dallas draw on Wednesday, Portland slipped to eight place in the Western Conference, with Dallas (12-11-8, 44 points) moving up into the seventh and final playoff position.
Portland fell to 2-13-3 when conceding the first goal of a match this season.
The Red Bulls got three saves from goalkeeper Luis Robles in his 70th career MLS shutout, but it was the saves he didn't have to make that did in the Timbers.
Diego Chara got free on a breakout in the 19th minute and chipped the ball off the underside of the crossbar.
In the 82nd minute with the Timbers still down only a goal, Portland forward Jeremy Ebobisse rolled a wide open shot to the right of the net. Later, with the Timbers down 2-0 and time running out, leading scorer Brian Fernandez missed from close range.
Royer put it away for the Red Bulls in stoppage time with his penalty kick after a foul committed by Portland's Jorge Moreira.
New York ended a three-game losing streak.