United vs Portland: “Soft” goals contribute to 2-0 loss to Timbers

To say that D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen was agitated after tonight’s 2-0 loss to the Portland Timbers is a bit of an understatement.

Any confidence from United stopping their club-record seven-game losing streak with a draw last Sunday against Sporting Kansas City quickly evaporated after falling behind early once again and failing to have the fortitude to fight back into the match.

Calling his team “soft” after the match was just the tip of the iceberg as Olsen first remained tight-lipped with one word answers before finally opening up and speaking his mind in assessing where his 1-9-2 team stands after the first third of the season had completed. ”

Rodney Wallace and Darlington Nagbe scored on either side of the break as Portland extended their team record unbeaten run to 11 matches while extending United’s run of futility to a team-record 10 matches without a win. Defensive errors were once again the death of United and Brandon McDonald was at the center of both goals. In the 22nd minute, McDonald took a poor angle on a seemingly innocent throw-in and Timbers forward Frederic Piqiuonne took advantage of the misplay and moved towards the top of the penalty area. With defenders Ethan White and Chris Korb closing on the Frenchman, he easily slipped the ball to a wide-open Wallace on the left side and his left-footed blast beat goalkeeper Bill Hamid to the near post for a 1-0 lead.

Unfortunately for United being behind has become a dangerous habit as the club has not held a lead in a league match since their 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake in the second week of the season. United has led for only 30 minutes out of 1080 minutes this season, a streak that has come to typify United’s season to date.

United managed to create a number of scoring opportunities during this match thanks in part to the efforts of Carlos Ruiz, making his first ever start for the Black-and-Red. Ruiz had a shot saved early on before the Wallace goal and was in the middle of nearly every dangerous attack on the evening.

After the break United started to push players forward in an effort to gain the equalizing goal but another costly misplay in defense stretched the lead to 2-0 in the 57th minute. Timber midfielder Darlington Nagbe beat Brandon McDonald to a loose ball at the top of the area and sent his shot through the legs of Hamid for the dagger goal. Nagbe, at least five inches and fifty pounds slighter than the muscular McDonald, simply outhustled the defender and left United in another desperate situation.

“It’s embarrassing how soft we were everywhere on the field. The lack of anger a few of our guys play with, it’s mind-boggling,” said Olsen after the match. While Olsen said he did not want to single any players out, it was clear that he had McDonald and the continually ineffective Marcos Sanchez in mind (Sanchez was subbed out at halftime). “DeLeon, Kitchen, Ruiz, any day of the week. The rest of the guys – we have a long way to go,” Olsen lamented. It did not stop there.

“We have to get new guys in here. We’re not good enough,” said Olsen. “We only had a couple of individuals show up and show that it (expletive) matters. I’ve had it with that part.”

United did have an opportunity to cut the lead in half but a non-call from referee Jose Carlos Rivero put an end to any comeback for United. A clear handball on Timber defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste somehow managed to go unseen by Rivero or either of the assistant referes’s. Perhaps a bit of kharma was dealt to United for the goal that was called back for offside this past Sunday against Sporting Kansas City.

United now turns their attention to the Open Cup on Tuesday evening when they travel to Richmond to face the Kickers. United’s next league match will be next Sunday in Chicago.

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