With home streak dead, Timbers reflect on awkward outing

John Spencer

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PORTLAND, Ore. – The home winning streak is dead, there are new questions about lack of focus and execution, and the Timbers’ star forward was left apologizing to his coach and team for an incident of insubordination.

Just when it seemed that the Timbers were becoming a bankable three points at home, it all went haywire in a 3-2 loss against a D.C. United team playing without Charlie Davies and Dax McCarty.

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“We got what we thoroughly deserved, which is zero points,” Timbers head coach John Spencer said. “D.C. United said they wanted to silence the crowd and be the first team to win at JELD-WEN. They did one of those two things. They never silenced the crowd, but they won the game. So they backed up their talk.”

United are the first team from the East Coast to travel three time zones and win an MLS game since the New York Red Bulls won at LA Galaxy last September. East Coast teams were 0-10-6 on the West Coast until Sunday.

Portland (5-4-2) must regroup before going on the road to face suddenly potent Chivas USA next week.

“We started sloppy in the Philly game and got away with it,” Spencer said. “We started sloppy against Columbus and got away with it. Today we got punished.”

The Timbers’ loss was one that forward Kenny Cooper would just as soon put behind him. He was called offside twice on plays where he put the ball in the DC net, but it was the events of the 64th minute that drew the most scrutiny. After Dejan Jakovic took him down in the six-yard box, Cooper lined up for the Timbers’ first penalty kick chance of the season. He hit it tentatively and D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid saved it.

Assistant referee Eric Proctor raised his flag, indicating Hamid had come off the line illegally. Cooper took a second shot that Hamid knocked away. Again, the goalkeeper was flagged.

That’s when Spencer motioned for Jack Jewsbury to take the penalty and waved for Cooper to back off. But Cooper didn’t relent easily and told Jewsbury he wanted to take the shot.

Jewsbury eventually took it and made it, and Spencer brought Cooper out of the game a few minutes later.

“Sometimes, in certain situations, pride becomes the main concern,” Spencer said. “(Cooper was thinking) ‘I’m not going to duck away from this, I’m going to score this one.’ But for me, we can’t put someone’s personal situation above the team’s situation, and I told him that.”

Cooper apologized to Spencer, Jewsbury and the team after the game. And he faced the media to his explain himself.

“I made a mistake,” Cooper said. “I should have shown more respect to our captain and our coach and not put up a fight like I did. Obviously, I’m very sorry about that. I’m happy Jack put it in the back of the net. I’m embarrassed by my actions.”

Apparently, there was no animosity. Even as Cooper was facing a bank of news cameras and reporters, Jewsbury came to his aid.

“We still love each other,” Jewsbury retorted to a reporter’s question. “It’s over. It’s done.”

The incident had little impact on the outcome, and Cooper-gate was squashed quickly.

Over the final 20 minutes of the game, DC went back on the attack, drew a penalty of their own on a Diego Chara hand ball in the box and then went up 3-1 in the 85th minute.

“(United) were sharper, they were hungrier to get on the ball, they passed better than us,” Spencer said. “Do I think they’re a better team than us? No. But today they were.”