D.C. United is approaching, or even has approached, a window where they need to come away from games with all of the points, and not split them with anyone. Thankfully, they started early Saturday night, with two goals in 20 minutes in the first half, and they stood up uncontested in a 2-0 win over last year’s MLS Cup Champion Portland Timbers.
The more and more they did things, the strategy appeared simple: make Timbers right back Alvas Powell (who had to be stretchered off in their last game, a win over Sporting Kansas City) make a decision on who to cover, dividing him from his teammates, and conquering. Timbers keeper Jake Gleeson and some bad luck could have made this a done deal early on.
Never mind that though, let’s start with that first goal by Steve Birnbaum, and Liam Ridgewell being a little sleepy to cover a guy who scored in the waning moments a week ago:
Next up, Bobby Boswell, stepping up again and having Jack McInerney get by him for a shot that Bill Hamid gets enough of that it hits the bar. Notice Jack Mac’s surrender cobra afterwards:
Now for the second goal. The interplay from Patrick Mullins and Luciano Acosta is obviously worth the fawning. But check out Taylor Kemp out on the outside. Powell stays with him and is late to react when Acosta continues his run. He’s not completely, or even primarily, at fault for this, but I wanted to mention him here.
Next is the combination of Acosta and Mullins a little later. It’s Powell with the turnover, and Powell late to pick Mullins up, and were it not for Gleeson’s save, it’s 3-0 a half hour into the game:
Moving into the second half, note that Kemp along with Patrick Nyarko, who had presumably gotten the memo about what was being done, get involved here. Kemp was already forward from a previous run, but he comes back, Nyarko sees space and make a run which doesn’t get rewarded:
Kemp and Nyarko move forward moments later, far more pragmatic, so that Devon McTavish noted the pushing forward on TV, and the Timbers caught wind of it also:
It was fun Saturday but it was hot and it was muggy. What are you going to do after this one Lucho?