Did D.C. United deserve a point against the Portland Timbers? Was there a handball in the box? Did Perry Kitchen's cross hit the arm of David Horst?
I have no idea really. Maybe it sort of went through his sleeve but didn't actually touch his arm? I don't know. We may never know.
But let's look at this differently. Let's ask a different question. Why the hell did Horst have his arm up? The Timbers can blame the officials for that penalty kick goal by Chris Pontius all they want. If Horst had kept his arms down, it wouldn't have happened.
That was the lone goal for United in this 1-1 draw in Portland, and it unfortunately came on one of the few chances on the night. United fell victim to the Timbers' strategy that has given them such a good record at home. Horst and Mamadou Futty Danso were monsters in the air, eating up every cross sent in by a United attacker, and the small width of the field made it difficult to create chances on the ground. It was just too crowded out there.
The Timbers managed to score late in the match, making this one of the very few times this season that United has failed to close out a game. Bright Dike finished strongly on a bit of a scramble play that saw Andy Najar block an initial attempt and Dejan Jakovic come just inches away from knocking the ball out of Dike's possession. Bill Hamid had no chance as the forward buried the ball in the upper netting.
I guess you could say that the Timbers' hard-working forward is a better finisher than United's hard-working forward.
As a United fan, if you're disappointed from the result, it's quite understandable, especially considering that we had a late lead. But there are other elements to consider as well. Like maybe we should consider the list of teams that went to JELD-WEN this year and did NOT leave with a point. That list includes the San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders, Sporting Kansas City, and Chicago Fire. It's just not an easy place to play, and no matter the Timbers' position in the standings, it's not a place where you should expect a win.
We should also consider our current record from this stretch of games without Dwayne De Rosario: three wins, one tie, and only two goals allowed.
We should also consider our next opponent. Toronto FC hasn't won a match since mid-July. Their record since then is 0-8-3. We set the goal at four points from this current road trip to Portland and Toronto. We took one of those points from the tougher of opponents. A win in Toronto would put United back in the discussion for one of the top three seeds in the East.
United's magic number is down to 7 (points earned by D.C. or lost by Columbus). Since the Columbus Crew beat the Philadelphia Union with some officiating help of their own, that number hasn't changed much this weekend. But since the Crew will be facing the surging Sporting Kansas City while United is visiting the lowly TFC, that magic number could very easily be just 1 before the Crew comes to RFK Stadium on Oct. 20.