Tampa Bay Sports Day

DC United score four in RFK hothouse

If you were at the game or have watched any of the highlights on the evening news or on DC United’s website, Porstmouth FC did not suddenly get a sponsorship from Volkswagen.

In what has been a nightmarish North American week’s journey for the English side frought with travel issues and serious injuries to compound their overbearing financial troubles and relegation to the Npower Championship, Portsmouth’s kits never made it to Washington in transit from Vancouver. So if those white uniforms looked somewhat familiar to you, yes, they were United’s standard road garb.

Danny Allsopp scored three goals including two in the first half, his second, a wonderful play generated from inside United’s half of the park from Branko Boskovic on their way to an easy 4-0 over the shell shocked English side. Pablo Hernandez added an even prettier goal in the 55th minute with a one touch passing sequence not previously seen at any point during this anemic United season.

United targeted this match among others in this recent busy stretch to get Boskovic and Hernandez acclimated into the team and their contributions tonight show a major step forward for both of the new acquisitions.

“He lasted longer than I thought (in the US Open Cup match on Wednesday) and then tonight was another game where we had a lot of the ball and to get sixty minutes in two games, for him I thought was good,” United coach Curt Onalfo said of Boskovic.

“You could see that he helps us possess the ball. He gives us something a little bit more going forward and certainly on that second goal you could see his class and he’s just going to continue to get better.”

His new running mate, and roommate, was equally as good. “Pablo is helping us on set pieces, which is nice to have, and through the run of play you can see that he’s just another quality player,” Onalfo continued. “So for those two guys it was good, but I think Santino [Quaranta] has come alive as well in terms of playing with them.”

United and their anemic attack have fared well in matches outside of MLS including this and a big win in a friendly against world giant AC Milan in late May. Their challenge now is to replicate these qualities in league play to avoid a cellar dwelling season filled with record setting futility.

Allsopp’s first in the 22nd minute was a carbon copy of Andy Najar’s goal against Los Angeles last Sunday. After Boyzzz Khumalo was hauled down just outside the right corner of the penalty area, Pablo Hernandez sent a perfectly weighted left footed inswinger that the burly Australian got up to head home for a well deserved United lead.

Right on the 30-minute mark, Boskovic showed his eminent class with a definitive ball behind defender Marc Wilson to Quaranta from the edge of the center circle in his defensive half. Quaranta slid it to Allsopp, whose first touch got a few yards away from him, but he recovered to get around the final defender and slot the ball into the right side netting to extend United’s advantage.

“It was obviously great; it was the first hat trick I have scored in quite a while, so it was pleasing,” said Allsopp whose family, from Southampton, Portsmouth’s biggest rival, may have been even more pleased.

United’s third goal was the prettiest of the match with Hernandez adding his quality and flair to the party in multiple ways. The crafty Argentine used a series of step overs and drag backs to skirt around three defenders on the right flank before playing a simple ball to Jordan Graye further up the touch line.

The much maligned defender played the ball to the top of the penalty area to Junior Carreiro who in turn one touched to Boskovic on the back side. The Montenegran one touched back toward the penalty spot to a running Hernandez who slotted the ball home with a classic finish.

Carriero, 18, a guest player, is the younger brother of former DC United standout Fred.

With Pompey Captain Michael Brown getting a yellow card for persistent infringement at the end of the first half, the tempers matched the 96-degree temperature and 103 heat index at the start of the second. The ill will culminated with Quaranta and defender Hayden Mullins being ejected for hurling abusive language at each other following a disagreement near midfield just moments before the Hernandez goal.

“I knew what their tactics would be…We were moving the ball quick. I thought we actually started a little bit slow, but once we kind of found our rhythm and started going at them a little bit and realized that the exercise was breaking down low pressure, they decided to foul us on every other play and that’s the job of the referee to realize,” said Onalfo. “So certainly, it was definitely a little chippy. It was competitive, which is good. It was a friendly, but it was heated.”

Brown and Mullins along with goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown and former English international David Nugent were the only recognizable names in a Portsmouth team torn by a revolving door of ownership throughout the past year. The instability has led to a mass exodus of their star players, stymied their transfer opportunities, and left many of the players going unpaid for significant periods of time.

“Probably that result summed up the tour for us really – it’s been extremely tough,” said Portsmouth coach Steve Cotterill. “We haven’t had a squad; we can’t change enough players, it’s taken us I don’t know how many hours to get here, we’ve got four hours sleep, and we looked like it.

“For 20 minutes we were OK, but after 20 minutes we were shot, and then the next 70 gets very painful and very hard for the players, so it was a tough game.”

Allsopp completed his hat trick in the 66thminute finishing a semi-breakaway through the right channel to make the score 4-0 off a lovely ball from Carriero.