The Portland Timbers and DC United both came into the game with streaks, but the teams were going in opposite directions. Portland was riding a league high 10 game unbeaten streak, while DC had not won a game in nine tries. Despite that fact DC United out-possessed Portland and created more shots it was all for naught as Portland still recorded the win and the shutout.
Despite the result, this was arguably Portland's worst road performance of the year, but good teams win even though they don't play well. Part of the reason for the poor showing had to do with the absence of Diego Valeri, out with a hamstring strain. Without Valeri, Portland had to play a little more direct and by doing so Portland gives the ball up a little more often than we are used to seeing.
You also have to credit DC United for closing down passing lanes and forcing Portland to play over the midfield to their two strikers. However if you are going to force Portland to play that way you have to be able to win the first and then the second ball. DC failed to do so on numerous occasions and in the 21st minute Portland punished them.
Portland won a throw in off of a long ball towards Ryan Johnson, which Jack Jewsbury took and ultimately threw to Frederic Piquionne. Piquionne turned his defender and attacked the top of the box and this drew four defenders to him. As he was making his run, Rodney Wallace was also making a run unmarked down the left side of the field. Piquionne slipped the ball out wide to the wide open Wallace.
Wallace took a touch, looked up and saw Bill Hamid cheating to the far post, and decided to hit the #@% out of the ball with his left foot towards the near post. The ball was hit with such force that Hamid had no chance to save it and could only pick the ball out of the net.
Credit to DC for not giving up after the early goal and continuing to put Portland's 6th different CB pairing of the year under pressure. There were a few shaky moments for the defense, especially on the right side as Jewsbury had a difficult time with Kyle Porter, but none of DC's rare chances proved dangerous.
In the second half those shaky moments started occurring with regularity as DC came out with a lot of energy and confidence. DC slowly gained confidence with each minute, looking for the equalizer.
In the 57th minute, against the run of play, Portland destroyed DC's hopes and dreams like a bad high school guidance counselor. Pa Madou Kah won a header (completely destroying Carlos Ruiz in the process) which went straight to Will Johnson. A pinball game ensued and the ball bounced around in the air until Darlington Nagbe headed back to Ryan Johnson.
Johnson hit a looping first time ball over the defense ahead of Nagbe's run. Surrounded by three DC defenders, Nagbe steadied the ball and took a shot right between Bill Hamid's wickets.
The second goal deflated a few of the DC United players. Even though they would have a few chances to score in the final 30 minutes, they had mentally conceded the game to Portland. Apparently the referee checked out after the second goal, too. Or maybe he just had dinner plans -- he missed an obvious penalty call on an Andrew Jean-Baptiste handball and gave two yellow card for time wasting.
Portland was able to hold on for the shutout and the win on the road for their first win over DC United in 4 tries.
- DC is in a terrible slump. If they keep up the pace they are on they will set records for the lowest Points Per game(.42 with the record being .52 by the Mutiny in 2001) and the lowest goals per game for an entire season (.5 goals with the record being .7 and that was set by them in 2010).
- Portland has scored 22 goals in 13 games. Last year they scored 24 in 34 games.
- I have to say I am a happy Fantasy MLS Manager, as I set Wallace as my captain and switched Donovan Ricketts in for Jimmy Nielsen.
- I think Valencia gets the mid-week start; I can't wait to see what he can do.
- At this pace Portland is set to earn 57.49 points which should be plenty to earn a playoff spot.
- The last two years Portland would have lost this game. Amazing how a change of coach makes a huge difference.
- I would tend to agree with MP -- it feels like Portland has yet to play to their potential consistently.
- Not really an observation, but you have to check this video out, it is hilarious: Jay Heaps answers a reporter's cell phone during his post game conference.