D.C. United started and ended poorly on Saturday night against the Portland Timbers, allowing one of the hosts' struggling strikers to score in the first minute and the other to score deep into second half stoppage time, as the Black-and-Red fell 3-2. It was Portland's first win in their nine games this season.
United did manage to come from behind twice, first through a deflected distance strike from Davy Arnaud and later through a Futty Danso own goal under pressure from Cristian Fernandez. But Gaston Fernandez' opener, Danso's tally for his own side and Maximiliano Urruti's late winner carried the day.
Up until the late stages, DC managed to play the Timbers pretty evenly, each side gaining the upper hand for stretches but neither dominating the other. But from shortly after the second equalizer, United looked as if they were playing a man down, looking spent and entirely ceding possession to the Timbers. Caleb Porter's team is too talented to play that highwire strategy against. Ultimately, they punished United, who will have to make adjustments as they move on in a month that includes matches against other talented-if-struggling teams like the Philadelphia Union, Houston Dynamo and New England Revolution. Not to mention the reigning MLS Cup champion Sporting Kansas City.
Time for Ben Olsen & Co. to go back to work.