WASHINGTON — Poor road form is no longer a hallmark of the Portland Timbers, but poor form overall continues to haunt D.C. United.
The Timbers remained unbeaten away from JELD-WEN Field following a comprehensive 2-0 victory over D.C. United at RFK Stadium on Saturday night. Resurgent wide forward Rodney Wallace had no problems making himself at home in his former digs, scoring the eventual game-winning goal against his old club and helping Portland improve to 2-0-5 on the road.
Darlington Nagbe added Portland's insurance goal, as Caleb Porter's squad extended its overall unbeaten streak to a franchise-best 11 games. The loss extended D.C.'s winless stretch to 10 games, matching a franchise worst, as the club has not won since its only three-point haul of the season, a 1-0 result over Real Salt Lake on March 9.
Wallace, an area college product at the University of Maryland who played the 2009 and 2010 seasons with D.C. United, was given the time and space to set up and fire a left-footed laser from inside the area past Bill Hamid that gave Portland a 1-0 edge in the 21st minute. The play started with an innocent Jack Jewsbury throw-in, which Frederic Piquionne received, settled with his back to goal and turned to find an unmarked Wallace overlapping, and the Costa Rican international finished with confidence for his fourth goal of the season.
United nearly pulled level in the 26th minute, with Kyle Porter's dipping effort from the left-hand side of the area threatening to tuck under the crossbar. Porter had D.C.'s next best chance in the 52nd minute, running onto Chris Korb's curling ball by the far post but heading over the bar. Porter then turned provider in the 55th minute, serving a long free kick that Perry Kitchen was able to flick on frame from close range, but right at goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
Portland struck for their second goal soon after, as Nagbe doubled the team's advantage in the 57th minute. He bodied off center backs Brandon McDonald and Ethan White to handle Ryan Johnson's lob and fire by Hamid, who had earlier denied him of a straightaway blast from distance in the 17th minute.
D.C. were denied a chance to slice that deficit in half in the 72nd minute, when Portland center back Andrew Jean-Baptiste appeared to have handled the ball in the area. Referee Jose Carlos Rivero waved play on despite protests and shouts from D.C. players, though, and United's only other chance came in the 86th minute, when substitute forward Lionard Pajoy put a blast well high before the final whistle cemented its place at a league-worst 1-9-2.
Portland, meanwhile were able to improve to 5-1-7, move within three points of Western Conference-leading FC Dallas and prevail without midfield maestro Diego Valeri, who was a scratch with a hamstring injury. Also of note for the Timbers was that new signing Pa Modou Kah made a largely successful debut in central defense, helping the club post its fifth clean sheet of the season.
Following a US Open Cup game against the Wilmington Hammerheads and a bye week in league play, Portland will look to add to their road success at the Chicago Fire in their next MLS game on June 8. D.C. also play at Toyota Park next, facing the Fire next Sunday following a midweek Open Cup match against USL PRO affiliate, the Richmond Kickers.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Rodney Wallace||Once again, Wallace was one of the more active players in the Timbers' attack and his goal in the 20th minute was taken well.|
|2||Frederic Piquionne||Delivered some good hold-up play for Portland's speedy front line and kept Brandon McDonald and Ethan White plenty busy.|
|3||Darlington Nagbe||Scored the goal that sealed the victory and also was heavily involved in keeping United's defenders on their heels.|