Portland Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins may have missed out on a chance to beat his former team in his first season with his new club.
But his two consecutive reaction saves in the final seconds of stoppage time of Wednesday’s match at RFK Stadium to preserve a 1-1 tie highlighted a superb game by the veteran, and effectively ended D.C. United’s postseason hopes while prolonging the Timbers' playoff chase to the season’s final game.
WATCH: Full Match Highlights
The highlight of Perkins’ match, which included six overall saves in a frenzied back-and-forth affair, was a diving effort to turn away a Joe Ngwenya shot three-and-a-half minutes into stoppage. He then popped right up to parry away the follow-up effort from Blake Brettschneider.
“[United] was coming out leaving four or five guys up high and just trying to defend with three or four guys,” said Perkins, who spent his first five MLS seasons with D.C. “We knew it was coming. It was a bit hectic and a bit crazy, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”
Perkins and the Timbers were beaten 3-2 by United at JELD-WEN Stadium on May 29. So while a win would have done a lot for the Timbers' playoff chances – they’ll now have to win Saturday at Real Salt Lake and hope for a New York loss Thursday in their match against Philadelphia – Perkins said he’s glad to be on the team coming out of the game with the playoffs still a legitimate hope.
“I wanted to win, obviously,” he said. “It would have meant a lot to the club and the guys in this locker room. A point on the road is a point on the road, but now hopefully the result tomorrow goes our way and we can go and get a result against Salt Lake.”
After Portland dominated early – hitting pay dirt with a Kenny Cooper goal in the 24th minute – Perkins had to be at his best all night with United desperate for a win. His only blemish came on a Dwayne De Rosario strike in the 72nd minute that beat Perkins to the near post. It was the second time a De Rosario goal led to a tie against Portland – the Canadian attacker scored in stoppage time while with New York to complete a Red Bulls comeback that led to a 3-3 tie in Portland on June 19.
Perkins also got a little help when De Rosario beat him to a loose ball in the box, only to see the shot destined for the goal blocked by a sliding Eric Brunner. Portland had plenty of chances as well to give Perkins a triumph in his return home, the most jaw-dropping being a clear shot by Brian Umony that hit the crossbar and bounced clear.
“That’s been our season,” Perkins said. “So many times it’s been right in our grasp. But a mistake here and a mistake there, and that’s the position we’re in.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @dan_itel