October 19, 2019

D.C. United Game 8 Recap: Goals early and late seal United’s fate at Portland

For about 92 minutes, maybe 92 minutes, 30 seconds, D.C. United didn’t play spectacularly, but the club probably played well enough to win at the Portland Timbers late Saturday night. Surely during that time, United played well enough at least to earn a draw and a valuable road point. Instead, however, United gave up goals in the first minute and the final minute in a 3-2 loss before 20,814 at Providence Park. Gastón Fernández notched the goal about 35 seconds in to give the Timbers the lead and Maximiliano Urruti scored on a rebound in the final minute of stoppage time.

The loss ended United’s five-match unbeaten streak and dropped the Major League Soccer club back to .500 on the season at 3-3-2 (11 points). A win would have lifted United into a first-place tie in the Eastern Conference with the New England Revolution, winners at Toronto Saturday. Instead, United sit in a four-team logjam for third place. The win was Portland’s (1-3-5, 8 points) first of the season.

United never led, but it appeared for long stretches that this would also be a game where D.C. refused to come away without at least a point. Down by a goal twice, United rallied on a 21st-minute goal by Davy Arnaud, then a Futty Danso own goal in the 78th minute that made it 2-2. But D.C. failed to see the game out properly. Portland pressured in stoppage time and near the final whistle, a shot that hit off goalkeeper Bill Hamid’s left post bounced directly back to an unmarked Urruti, who fired the ball back toward goal and in to make it 3-2 for the Timbers. Following the celebration and the kickoff, United didn’t even have time to get the ball up field before the final whistle blew.

United have not won a road match in MLS since late 2012. Far removed from last year’s squad that hoped beyond hope to keep road matches at 0-0 and nick a shot on goal here and there, United had four shots on goal Saturday night, eight corners (to Portland’s three), and multiple opportunities to take advantage of a Portland defense that wasn’t very good. Ten of United’s shot attempts were blocked, however, adding to D.C.’s frustration. Far from being lucky to get a road point like was the case most of last year, United played nearly the entire game Saturday as if it deserved one, and even got breaks along the way with Danso’s own goal and even Arnaud’s strike from distance, which took a significant deflection that caused it to elude Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts. Arnaud’s goal was his second of the season, while Perry Kitchen drew his first assist.

One point or three also would have been a big boost to a United club who played Saturday without forward Eddie Johnson and defender Sean Franklin due to injury. Conor Doyle started up top in place of Johnson, paired with Fabian Espindola. Espindola didn’t draw an assist, but it was his corner kick that led to Danso’s own goal, as he headed the ball past Ricketts. Chris Korb started in place of Franklin.

Even with the revamped lineup, United were seconds away from at least getting a point, and better defensive concentration early might not have allowed Fernández to get to a cross into the D.C. penalty area that seemed to catch the defense napping, and Hamid was unable to get out in time to intercept the play. You could argue D.C. deserved a better fate Saturday night than a loss, but the club must be better from the opening kickoff to the final whistle in order to earn the just reward from its efforts.

United are next in action at 4 p.m. Saturday away to the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park. CSN will televise the match.

Ed Morgans is the D.C. United Page Editor for District Sports Page. 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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