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Cahill scores first MLS goal
19:49 AEST Mon Aug 20 2012

Tim Cahill scored his first Major League Soccer goal in controversial circumstances to help lift the New York Red Bulls to a 3-2 home win over the Portland Timbers.

Cahill, who last month left Everton to join former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry at the Red Bulls, netted the equaliser as his side recovered from a 2-0 deficit to maintain their unbeaten home record this season.

The 32-year-old pounced on a deflection after a Portland defender blocked Dax McCarthy's shot.

However, referee Jasen Anno blew his whistle prior to Cahill's strike and Timbers coach Gavin Wilkinson was one of many to presume there was a penalty for a handball.

"Yeah, I heard it (the whistle). So did the players," Wilkinson told the New York Post.

"You could see on the replay him blowing the whistle well before the ball was going into the back of the net.

"Then, the decision was changed."

Red Bulls midfielder Jan Gunnar Solli largely agreed with Wilkinson's summation.

"He was too quick blowing the whistle," Solli told the NY Post.

"I don't understand why he would blow the whistle so quick. I can understand why the Portland players were so furious about it.

"I heard the whistle. I thought it was offside or something."

Anno said in a statement that his whistle signalled the goal, not a penalty.

Cahill, who opted out of the Socceroos' recent friendly against Scotland to settle in to his new surrounds, played down the controversy that marred his third MLS game.

"The ball dropped, I followed it and hit the back of the net," Cahill told the NY Post.

"I didn't hear anything."

Chinedu Dike and Darlington Nagbe had given Portland a 2-0 lead, but New York substitute Kenny Cooper scored within seven minutes of his 36th-minute introduction.

Cahill then equalised just before halftime, with Heath Pearce slotting the 83rd-minute winner that lifted New York to within two points of Eastern Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City.