Bad news came in threes for both the Portland Timbers
and D.C. United Sunday afternoon, but the results proved worse for Portland.
D.C. United ended the Timbers’ home winning streak with a 3-2 win at Jeld-Wen Field that was tense to the final minute.
Portland had chances to earn a draw in stoppage time after a header goal by Jorge Perlaza breathed life into a game that appeared over in the 88th minute.
The United defense tensed up, but Portland didn’t have the time to capitalize.
“We got from the game what I thought we deserved, which was zero points,” Timbers coach John Spencer said. “D.C. United said, ‘We’re going to come and silence the crowd and be the first team to win at Jeld-Wen.’ They did one of the two things. They never silenced the crowd, but they won the game."
“I think they were better than us, individually and collectively on the day."
The match got off to a slow start. Neither team was particularly adept in its attack, but the United managed to score in the 14th minute off a header pass from Chris Pontius to Perry Kitchen. Kitchen’s first goal of the season gave the United a 1-0 lead that held into the second half.
The Timbers’ offense lacked creativity and timing throughout the first half, with botched crosses and only two shots, one on goal. Kenny Cooper also had a goal on a counterattack disallowed on an offsides call in the 42nd minute.
Portland increased the offensive pressure in the second half and was able to create more scoring opportunities. The stress for Cooper continued to build in the 58th minute, when another goal -- this a header off a free kick by Jack Jewsbury -- bounced into the right corner of the goal from one-yard out. The line judge called Cooper offsides once again.
Cooper caught a break on another prime scoring opportunity, drawing a foul inside the box to receive a penalty kick in the 64th minute. Cooper lined up looking for the equalizer and shot to his left. But United goalkeeper Bill Hamid guessed correctly and blocked the shot.
And here’s where it got bizarre.
The line judge called Hamid for coming off his line -- penalty shots require the goalie to stay on the goal line rather than moving out toward the kicker and narrowing the target. Hamid complained to no avail, and Cooper lined up for his second kick.
Cooper went right this time, but Hamid once again anticipated the shot and blocked it. Once more, enter the line judge. Hamid was called for coming off his line yet again, and the Timbers had their third try at converting.
Rather than have Cooper kick again, Spencer called for Jewsbury to take the shot. Cooper argued and insisted on taking the shot, causing a delay as he challenged Spencer. Hamid, meanwhile, received a yellow card for arguing -- alongside the rest of his teammates -- with the referee. Jewsbury finally lined up to kick and scored the equalizer in the 68th minute.
After the goal, Spencer pulled Cooper in favor of Ryan Pore.
"I just think a goalkeeper gets the upperhand on you when he stops the second one, obviously he starts to feel confident, and for me, we just couldn’t take the chance,” Spencer said.
“I spoke with Kenny, he’s apologized for his actions. … That’s why I subbed him out, because I’ve got to let him know that I’m the head coach, and I make the decisions, and when I tell someone that Jack Jewsbury’s gonna take the kick, they need to respect that decision."
To compensate for the loss of Cooper, Sal Zizzo -- making his first career MLS start in place of the injured Darlington Nagbe -- moved farther foward in the formation. Portland seemed to have the momentum until a handball by Diego Chara in the box put United at the penalty spot. Midfielder Chris Pontius put it past Troy Perkins and gave United a 2-1 lead in the 75th minute.
United’s Josh Wolff added the team’s third goal in the 86th minute off an assist from Blake Brettschneider, his second of the day.
The offensive burst by United was surprising given the absence of star striker Charlie Davies, who is still nursing a hamstring pull. Their regular starter, Wolff, only subbed in in the 2nd half, but before that the team was playing Brettschneider and Joseph Ngwenya, neither of whom had a goal this season in 420 combined minutes.
After the game, the embers of Cooper’s flare-up were still glowing.
Cooper said he was “embarrassed” by his actions and paused in the locker room when asked if the incident with Spencer was behind them. Jewsbury -- who had been listening in -- jumped in and clapped a hand on Cooper’s shoulder.
“Yeah, we still love each other,” Jewsbury said to laughs. To Cooper, as much as the reporters, he said, “It’s over, it’s done.”
But the sting of the day might not have cleared from Cooper. He quickly dressed and left the locker room, with Jewsbury repeatedly encouraging him not to dwell on his disappointing day.