Photo by Jose L. Argueta/ISIphotos.com
WASHINGTON — After a late flurry of action both ways, two things are clear: The Portland Timbers' postseason chances are still alive, and D.C. United's season is over.
Despite late heroics from MVP candidate Dwayne De Rosario and a number of chances in the waning minutes, D.C. couldn't find a late winner and played Portland to a 1-1 draw in front of 14,317 at RFK Stadium.
As a result, United's quest for the playoffs is over, while Portland still maintains a glimmer of hope for the 10th and final MLS playoff berth while it awaits the outcome of Thursday night's match between New York and Philadelphia.
Kenny Cooper opened the scoring in the 24th minute with a header off Rodney Wallace's cross, and D.C. hardly looked threatening until De Rosario turned and fired a left-footed shot from a tight angle to beat Troy Perkins and level the score in the 73rd minute. The goal set a single-season career-high for De Rosario (16) and puts him a goal ahead of San Jose's Chris Wondolowski in the race for the league's Golden Boot.
United's sense of urgency picked up after De Rosario's goal, leading to a wide-open final 20 minutes during which both sides had numerous golden chances that were either wasted or saved at a rapid pace.
"Two teams were just gambling trying to get that win, because we both felt that we needed it," Timbers coach John Spencer said. "They came at us, which is to be expected. They're the home team fighting for their lives."
At one point, Portland substitute Brian Umony was denied by both the crossbar and by D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid on successive chances.
On the other end, United's Joseph Ngwenya and Blake Brettschneider were both denied on the doorstep by Troy Perkins on back-to-back shots.
"The first one as soon, as he hits it you've got to get across and keep your feet about you," Perkins said. "The second one you've got to make yourself as big as you can, and luckily I closed the angle enough and made the save."
United also had a go-ahead goal waved off prior to that sequence, after Perkins came off his line but didn't completely clear the ball. De Rosario capitalized and crossed to Brettschneider, who was offside prior to heading the ball into the empty net while standing at the goal mouth.
"I thought, 'We got it, let's finish up this game and move on,' but it didn't work out like that," Brettschneider said. "It was so loud I couldn't hear a whistle. (Santino Quaranta) was right there with me, and we both thought it was a goal, and I didn't think there was any reason to question it. I thought there was a defender right behind me. Being that close to the endline you don't see a lot of offside calls like that. You have to trust the referee's judgment there."
De Rosario, who had his right lower leg taped at halftime and played 90 minutes through a shin injury, also had a clear look at goal from the right with Perkins out of position, but Eric Brunner provided cover to cut off the shooting lane and came up with a sliding, game-saving block.
"It was a great defensive play," De Rosario said. "Hats off to him. He sprinted back and got himself in a position where he cleared the ball from going in the back of the net.
"At the end we did what we could. … It's frustrating."
With the point in tow, Portland needs Philadelphia to beat New York Thursday night and then to win at Real Salt Lake on Saturday to reach the playoffs. United, meanwhile, has nothing left to play for during Saturday's season finale except potentially preventing Sporting Kansas City from getting the Eastern Conference's top seed.
"I can't say we were unlucky not to win the game, because we were lucky not to lose the game at times, and I think (D.C. coach Ben Olsen) will probably say the same thing," Spencer said. "For us, we need Philadelphia to do us a ton."
So you’re saying that Toronto and the Pink Cows were stupid to trade away an MVP candidate, because the trades were on them, not Dero.
Tonight every DCU supporter is a Union fan.
Ok, didn’t do any research. I feel much better now. Thought Spencer was throwing in the towel.
did i say that the Fire-DC game didnt have an exciting finish? No. Dont put words in my mouth. I saw the game but it wasnt as back and forth as the DC-PORT game. They traded chances for a good 15-20 minutes while the Fire-DC game was only exciting during the last 5-7 minutes of the game…
i disagree. i thought maybe i was just watching the replay with biased eyes, but his hands are both up in the air and not by his side. i will say, if you pause the video at 7:13 (DCU’s website, go to highlights) it does appear that it would have hit his head anyway. BUT the guy’s hands are clearly up and it wouldn’t be wrong to call a PK.
Read the comments above. Good call.
can’t we agree that NYRB doesn’t know what they are doing though?
Shots on Goal: #2
Pretty awesome stats if you ask me.
yeah man, the rule is the SECOND to last defender. the last defender is considered the goalie.
12 assists say otherwise…
absolutely. his stats are incredible. he’s #1 is about everything.
you’ll lose tonight and continue your consistency of winning nothing. despite a expensive lineup. NYRB should have fought LA for the SS.
“but Eric Brunner provided cover to cut off the shooting lane and came up with a sliding, game-saving block.”
yeah, with his hand!!! the offside call was absolutely the correct call, but there should have been a PK for the handball. But DC got plenty of PKs this year from dives. So karma is still a b!tch!