WASHINGTON – A first-goal by forward Kenny Cooper was countered by a second-half equalizer from midfielder Dwayne De Rosario as the Portland Timbers and D.C. United played to a thrilling 1-1 draw at RFK Stadium on Wednesday night.
Portland staked a 1-0 lead in the 24th minute when Cooper headed in the go-ahead goal off a cross from defender Rodney Wallace. The Timbers would hold a lead until the 73rd minute, but De Rosario snuck in a shot from a tough angle inside the box to knot the score at 1-1. With playoff implications on the line for both clubs, the Timbers and United both pushed forward, looking for all three points. Both Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins and D.C. United’s Bill Hamid each made game-changing saves down to the final whistle as the match closed in a draw.
With the draw, the Timbers (11-14-8, 41pts) remain in contention for the last wildcard berth in the MLS Cup playoffs. The Timbers trail the New York Red Bulls (43pts) in that 10th and final playoff spot by two points. In order to qualify for the postseason, Portland needs the Philadelphia Union to defeat the Red Bulls on Thursday night. Then, the Timbers must capture a win over Real Salt Lake in their season finale Saturday.
A draw between New York and Philadelphia would eliminate the Timbers from the playoffs, as the Red Bulls own the tiebreaker over the Timbers should both clubs finish with 44 points. The Red Bulls automatically clinch a playoff spot with a win over the Union.
Cooper tallied his team-leading eighth goal of the season, defender Rodney Wallace notched his second assist of the campaign and Perkins finished with six saves to help the Timbers to the draw in the opening contest of a two-match road trip to conclude the regular season.
Needing two goals to salvage their season, D.C. began to pressure Troy Perkins’ goal after conceding. Andy Najar made a scintillating run, cutting between two defenders down the left wing, but his finish in the box was easy for Perkins to handle.
While United pushed forward to little effect, Portland found ways to be consistently dangerous on the counter, testing Hamid multiple times. The improvised 4-3-3 that John Spencer’s side trotted out generated a number of chances, but also ended up giving D.C. plenty of room to work with in the midfield.
That was eventually punished by De Rosario in the 73rd minute. Despite nursing a right ankle injury, the Canadian international received a Josh Wolff pass with his back to goal at the top of the box, pivoted on defender Eric Brunner, and unleashed a left foot shot that beat Perkins at his near post.
Following De Rosario’s goal, D.C. threw caution to the wind, getting numbers into Portland’s penalty area in hopes of breaking the deadlock. Portland, meanwhile, kept compact in front of Perkins’ net, looking to spring on the counter. Both sides ended up generating plenty of chances.
Both Khalif Alhassan and Cooper had opportunities to strike on the break, but opted to fire from distance, narrowly missing Hamid’s frame. That was followed by a clear chance for Brian Umony, but his shot hit the crossbar and was cleared away. Two minutes later, Umony could have given the Timbers the win by squaring to Bright Dike in a 2-on-none break, but opted to shoot instead, and saw his effort blocked by Hamid. In between, De Rosario had had a penalty shout waved off when he’d gotten past Futty Danso in the box.
Moments later, Dike was saved again by Hamid, and D.C.’s Blake Brettschneider had a possible game-winning goal waived off for offside.
It kept coming, though to no avail. De Rosario beat Perkins to a flick and rounded the keeper, only to have a sure goal blocked by Brunner. Deeper into stoppage Joe Ngwenya had a last-gasp effort saved by Perkins, who then was able to spring up and block the follow-up effort as well.
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.
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