April 19, 2021

D.C. United Game 12 Recap: United blanked at home by Portland Timbers

Another new lineup, another match, another shutout, another loss. It seems no matter what D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen tries, and no matter who plays, there is nothing that will lead to United to a victory – something that’s happened just once this season and not at all since March 9.

United slipped to 1-9-2 on the Major League Soccer season with a 2-0 loss to the Portland Timbers before 14,131 at RFK Stadium Saturday night.

United are now on a 10-match winless streak, earning only two draws in that time to go with eight losses. United remain last in the Eastern Conference (and MLS overall) with five points. United are 13 points out of a playoff spot in the East. Portland improved to 5-1-7 on the season (22 points), and stand second in the Western Conference behind FC Dallas.

Rodney Wallace (a former United first-round draft pick) and Darlington Nagbe scored the goals for Portland on either side of halftime, scoring as many goals in the contest as United had shots on goal (Portland had 5 shots on goal, though United led in total shots, 17-12). The goals for Wallace and Nagbe were each their fourth of the season. United has scored six goals as a team in 12 matches.

Much discussed forward Carlos Ruiz received his first start of the season for United and went 71 minutes, by far the most action he’s seen in 2013, taking three shots and putting one on goal. Brandon McDonald started in the back in place of Dejan Jakovic, joined by Ethan White, Chris Korb, and James Riley. Chris Pontius and Nick DeLeon both earned starts, with DeLeon going the full 90 in another positive sign in his return from injury. Pontius left after 65 minutes in favor of Dwayne DeRosario, who was dropped from the midfield at the start by Olsen. Lionard Pajoy replaced Ruiz and played 19 minutes, taking two shots but none on goal.

Through 12 matches, Korb and Perry Kitchen are the only United players to start every match.

United were about even with Portland on possession and each team had six corner kicks. But as has been the case much of the season, United couldn’t produce offensively and weren’t able to shut down their opponents. United are now 17th in the league in goals allowed (22), with only Philadelphia (23 – including five Saturday), and Chivas USA (24) being worse. D.C. is worst in goals scored with six, with only the Chicago Fire (seven) being in a similar spot in the league for having not scored in double figures yet.

Saturday night’s loss marked the seventh time United has been shutout – more than half of the club’s games played. United’s next game may not see any scoring, since United visit the Fire at 5 p.m. Sunday, June 2. United, however, have more pressing issues to worry about, as the club will take on the Richmond Kickers Tuesday night in Richmond in the U.S. Open Cup. The Kickers, a club affiliated with United for player development purposes, play in the United Soccer League’s Professional Division. Richmond stand in third place in USL PRO currently, with a 5-0-3 record (18 points).

Richmond will enter Tuesday’s Cup match off a win, having beat the Harrisburg City Islanders, 2-0, on Friday night. Former United player Joseph Ngwenya has six goals for Richmond, while young United prospect Michael Seaton has scored twice. Casey Townsend, who has seen action of late with United, has also scored two goals this season while on loan to Richmond. Tuesday’s Cup match kicks off at 7 p.m. at City Stadium in Richmond. Sporting Kansas City are the defending Open Cup champions.

Given United’s league standing, Tuesday’s match represents a fresh opportunity to compete for a trophy (one United has won twice, in 1996 and 2008), as well as another chance for Olsen to find a lineup that works, perhaps build some confidence with a result, and maybe kick start the club into a better stretch of league form.

At this point, any win, anywhere, for United would be welcome.

NOTES: There were 17 goals scored in MLS yesterday – eight in one game. Montreal defeated Philadelphia, 5-3. Montreal are just one point behind the New York Red Bulls for first in the East, despite having played three fewer games. FC Dallas is five points clear of Portland in the West after a 1-0 victory over San Jose Saturday. … On the bright side, United were on their best behavior Saturday, receiving no cards from referee Jose Carlos Rivero. … While United had 17 total shots to Portland’s 12, the total looks different when shots that were blocked are removed. Sans those rejected chances, United outshot Portland, 10-9. … Other than Ruiz, Kitchen had United’s other shot on goal.

Ed Morgans is a Contributor to District Sports Page, covering D.C. United. For in-game analysis and story notifications, follow him on Twitter @writered21.

About Ed Morgans

Ed Morgans is DC United Page Editor for District Sports Page. Ed worked for The Journal Newspapers (now The Examiner) and covered DC United from 1997-2002. He spent the 2003 season writing for the club’s website. Ed has covered All-Star Games, MLS Cups, CONCACAF Champions Cup, World Cup qualifiers, and international friendlies. He also worked as a blogger at www.bigsoccer.com, the country’s leading soccer message board website. You can follow Ed on Twitter @writerEd21.

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