Tampa Bay Sports Day

Committed DC United goes down swinging as 1-1 tie falls short

Nearly every DC United player collapsed to the soggy RFK Stadium turf at the final whistle knowing that their 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers was not good enough to keep their playoff hopes alive. To their credit, United left everything they had on the field as a dramatic but often maddening push throughout the second half got the equalizer but was simply not good enough to forge the home side ahead.

“It’s funny; it was basically my pre-game speech. Let’s go down swinging; let’s show the people that we are completely committed out there and we’ll need to push it to the limit to get this result,” said United Head Coach Ben Oslen.

United will now miss the playoffs for a club-record fourth consecutive year.

Dwayne De Rosario, with his right ankle heavily taped and noticeably limping after being kicked in the first half, scored his league leading 16th goal of the season for a brilliant equalizer in the 73rd minute after Kenny Cooper had given the Timber the lead with an easy header in the 24th minute.

“It was disheartening. It is but it isn’t in the sense that we showed some fight,” De Rosario said. “Yeah it was basically both teams having chances at the end. We definitely had some great opportunities, and if we had a little more hunger and a little more fight, we finish those chances. Those are things we really need how to learn – to commit to that final ball and get your body behind it.”

After taking a good ball from Josh Wolff, De Rosario drifted to left side of the penalty area, took a turn and beat former United goalkeeper Troy Perkins with a definitive strike to the near post.

“If Dwayne De Rosario doesn’t get MVP of the League there’s something wrong. Plain and simple,” said Timbers coach John Spencer, who coached De Rosario during his time as an assistant in Houston. “For the last three months of the season since he came here he’s been the best player in the League by far – a country mile. He needs to win MVP.”

United thought they had what would surely have been a season saving goal in the 89th minute but Blake Brettschneider header was disallowed when he was correctly ruled to be in an offside position. Perkins came out to play the original shot and ended up going past Brettschneider thus leaving just one defender as the cross was played in.

Cooper’s goal was much simpler, as he slipped between McDonald and Ethan White to nod home an equally simple but perfect cross from another former United player, Rodney Wallace, from the left flank.

Regardless of the implications, the game was apparently destined to be played in wet conditions. The match was originally scheduled for August 25 but was postponed due to Hurricane Irene and on this day, a steady rain all day drenched the Washington metropolitan area but stopped shortly before kickoff.

Despite United’s comprehensive attacking posture with De Rosario playing behind Josh Wolff and Charlie Davies, neither team managed to create more than a half chance through the first 20 plus minutes with one exception. McDonald rifled a header just over the bar off a Santino Quaranta corner kick that disturbed the netting enough to cause an unfounded roar from the home crowd in the 10th minute.

Andy Najar made a strong run with his usual touch of flair down the left flank in the 34th minute, but his right footed shot targeted for the near post from inside the penalty area was not equal to the quality of the run.

Quaranta had an even better opportunity in the 42nd minute but that also went awry. After a strong cut back dribble around Lovel Palmer at the top left corner of the penalty area, his left footed attempt across the face of the goal somehow bounced over the extended foot of a charging Wolff and then skidded just wide of the far post.

But the real drama and thrills did not come until after the break.

“It was a bit of a blur those last 20-30 minutes, and the whole second half,” said Oslen. “But I am extremely proud of the guys tonight – I can’t believe nobody scored down that stretch. The amount of chances that were going on was pretty remarkable. I have to look at it, but it seems that we had the better ones. It just wasn’t our night. Troy [Perkins] came off with a couple of saves, and they did well to put their bodies in front of us on some and we didn’t do well with some finishes as well.”

Knowing it needed a goal quickly in the second half, United formulated significant stretches of coordinated attack but could not find the final idea or execute the final ball to get through Portland’s solid defensive structure.

When White’s lay off for De Rosario in the penalty area was woefully off the mark, the Timbers counter nearly produced the sure clincher in the 60th minute but Kalif Alhassan’s late-contested whistler from the top of the box went just wide of the right post.

Shortly thereafter, hobbling or not, De Rosario muscled his way around a much bigger Mamadou Danso but as another defender closed down the space, he got bumped and fell to the turf but not enough for referee Jair Marrufo to point to the penalty spot.

“It felt like a schoolyard game at the end,” said Quaranta. “Every time we got the ball going forward I felt like it was going to be a chance to score.”

Portland thought they had the go ahead goal just seconds later but Brian Umony’s attempt from close range hit under the crossbar and came straight down but clearly did not cross the goal line.

Umony scampered into the penalty area uncontested seconds later but Bill Hamid came up with a tremendous save to keep United’s hopes alive in the 85th minute. Hamid made an even better reflex save a minute later to deny Bright Dike who fired from with in a crowd but straight away from 14-yards.

In extra time, De Rosario beat Perkins to a bouncing ball but his shot toward the open net was blocked by an alert Eric Brunner.

De Rosario sent another ball across the face of the goal seconds later that Joseph Ngwenya got onto but his foot was clipped by a Portland defender and the weakened result was knocked away by Perkins and Blake Brettschneider’s desperate follow up was blocked.

United will conclude this year’s efforts against conference co-leader Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.

Scoring Summary:
POR — Kenny Cooper 8 (Rodney Wallace 2) 24
DC — Dwayne De Rosario 16 (Josh Wolff 7) 73

Portland Timbers — Troy Perkins, Lovel Palmer, Eric Brunner, Mamadou Danso, Rodney Wallace (Mike Chabala 79), Eric Alexander (Brian Umony 63), Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara, James Marcelin, Kalif Alhassan, Kenny Cooper (Bright Dike 84).

Substitutes Not Used: David Horst, Jorge Perlaza, Steve Purdy, Jake Gleeson.

D.C. United — Bill Hamid, Chris Korb, Ethan White (Joseph Ngwenya 89), Brandon McDonald, Daniel Woolard (Austin Da Luz 71), Andy Najar, Perry Kitchen, Santino Quaranta, Charlie Davies (Blake Brettschneider 51), Dwayne De Rosario, Josh Wolff.

Substitutes Not Used: Stephen King, Kurt Morsink, Clyde Simms, Joe Willis.

Misconduct Summary:
DC — Brandon McDonald (caution; Tactical Foul) 58
POR — Bright Dike (caution; Reckless Foul) 85
DC — Austin Da Luz (caution; Reckless Foul) 90

Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee’s Assistants: -C.J. Morgante; Frank Anderson
4th Official: Jose Carlos Rivero
Time of Game: 1:50
Weather: Rain-and-68-degrees
Attendance: 14,317