DC United ready to silence raucous Timbers crowd
WASHINGTON — When D.C. United play their first road game since April 29 on Sunday in Portland (5 pm ET; WATCH LIVE ONLINE), they’ll try to achieve something no MLS team has managed:
Get a point at JELD-WEN Field.
Though the first-year Timbers lost a friendly there against Dutch giants Ajax on Wednesday, they enter Sunday’s match with a perfect 5-0 home record in league play. Every game has been a sellout, and the team is routinely backed by a raucous home crowd led by the Timbers Army.
That tremendous atmosphere at JELD-WEN has quickly become notorious around the league, so earning a full three points there is an enticing prospect for DC.
“We’re excited about the atmosphere, excited about the challenge and hoping to be the first team to beat them up there,” midfielder Dax McCarty said.
In recent games, DC have performed well in front of rabid crowds like the one they’ll face in Portland. The club has yet to lose in two previous trips to Seattle, and they defeated Toronto FC, 3-0, earlier this season at BMO Field.
“I think we’ve done well in atmospheres like that,” midfielder Chris Pontius said. “We’ve done well in Seattle in both years, so hopefully we can go in and do the same thing in Portland.”
They’ll look to silence the Timbers Army by getting an early goal.
“As a player, you look forward to getting to play in those environments, and listening to that crowd be quiet is the best thing you can hear,” assistant coach Chad Ashton said.
There's a good chance the game will be won on set-pieces. Portland have scored seven of their 13 goals this season off dead-ball opportunities. Conversely, DC have struggled with set-pieces on both sides of the ball so far this year, but they'll be looking to reverse that trend this weekend at JELD-WEN Field.
“It’s a small field, so it becomes very important, even for us offensively,” Pontius said. “I don’t think we’ve done that well offensively on set-pieces, so hopefully we can take advantage of them falling asleep for a second and pick up a goal. Defensively, we have to be tuned in on every set piece.”
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, college and youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @travismclark