Wayne Rooney starred in a major way on Wednesday night, as D.C. United beat the Portland Timbers 4-1. Rooney scored on either side of halftime for United, who also got goals from Oniel Fisher and former Timber Darren Mattocks, as they got their first come-from-behind victory this season.
Samuel Armenteros put the visitors ahead in the 35th minute, but Rooney struck just before the end of the half to level the score. Fisher scored his first-ever goal for the Black-and-Red almost immediately after the second half began, and Rooney scored direct from a free kick to get his brace. Mattocks added an impressive tally in stoppage time to provide the final scoreline.
Head coach Ben Olsen surprisingly made only two changes from the starting 11 from Sunday night’s electric 3-2 win over Orlando City. As expected, Bill Hamid was given a start in goal, but the only other change was bringing in Junior Moreno for Zoltan Stieber, as United lined up in the 4-2-3-1 formation they used against the Montreal Impact.
Portland, in addition to traveling cross country for the game against the Black-and-Red, face a tricky test this weekend when they head midwest to take on Sporting Kansas City. Nonetheless, teams fielded strong sides, canceling each out early.
The Timbers created the first real dangerous moment in the 12th minute, when Armenteros got the ball out wide on the left. The Swede sent a cross in for Diego Valeri, but it was blocked by Joseph Mora.
An awkward cross from Sebastian Blanco in the 21st minute forced Hamid into his first real action. Blanco got to the endline, and sliced a cross that was spinning back towards goal. Hamid was a bit off his line, and had to scramble back to push the cross out. Julio Cascante won the header on the resulting corner, but directed his effort just over the frame.
Russell Canouse dragged a shot just wide in the 23rd minute, before Rooney sent in a dangerous looking free kick in the 26th minute only for Zarek Valentin and Alvas Powell both won headers to prevent a scoring chance for the Black-and-Red.
In the 31st minute, Valeri sent a corner to the top of the box, where Blanco was unmarked for the Timbers. The Argentine had time to line up his shot, and fired off a left-footed volley that was blocked out for another corner by Canouse.
Portland had been on top for a spell, and were then rewarded with a goal in the 35th minute thanks to Armenteros. Blanco found Andy Polo in the box, with the Peruvian able to get into a dangerous spot for Portland, and then cut a pass back towards the penalty spot. Hamid got a hand to Armenteros’ first-timed shot, but couldn’t keep it out as the Timbers went ahead.
Two minutes later, Armenteros nearly made it two, but a huge save from Hamid kept United within one. Blanco sent Armenteros in behind the defense unmarked with a ball from the left. Hamid raced off his line, blocking the header from Armenteros that would have otherwise been a goal.
United seemed unlikely to find an equalizer before the half, but they did just that in the 43rd minute. Yamil Asad had possession 30 yards from goal, and placed a perfect pass into the box for Rooney, who for once had been lost by the Portland defense. Attinella charged out to cut down the angles, but Rooney placed a left-footed shot under the keeper for his second goal in the Black-and-Red.
That scoreline didn’t last all that long in the second half, and it was Fisher of all people who fired the hosts ahead in the 47th minute. An inspired play from Luciano Acosta, who held off several defenders making his way towards goal, was the catalyst for Fisher’s go-ahead goal. Acosta finally worked himself free, and picked out Fisher on the right side of the box, and the right back laced a shot that hit both posts on its way in.
Armenteros had the ball in the back of the net for Timbers in the 55th minute, but the whistle had already gone for offside against the striker. After five video reviews on Sunday, there were zero on Wednesday night.
Moments later, Rooney nearly had his second, only to be denied by the woodwork. Arriola made a run up the field with the ball on the right, and when the defenders closed down, found Rooney near the box. Rooney looked for a return pass, but with Arriola marked, he opted for an audacious lob. Attinella was beaten, but the cross bar wasn’t, denying Rooney another highlight-reel goal.
Rooney wouldn’t be denied in the 69th minute though, as he converted the free kick that just eluded him against Montreal. Asad won a free kick at the top of the box, and there was no doubt that Rooney was going to goal. England’s all-time top scorer curled the ball expertly over the wall, beating Attinella to make it 3-1.
Portland seemed deflated. Three subs hardly made a dent for the Timbers, and it wasn’t until the 85th minute, with Powell breaking into the box, that they threatened. But just on the verge of shooting, several defenders closed down the Jamaican, clearing the danger.
Two of United’s subs combined in the 87th minute, and created what should have been the cherry on the top for the Black-and-Red. A slide-rule pass from Ulises Segura found Zoltan Stieber in the box, but the Hungarian tried to chip Attinella, who was not fooled by the shot.
Moments after the start of stoppage time, United’s third substitute, Darren Mattocks, came through against his old club, netting his 9th goal of the season. Mattocks did all the work himself, picking up a pass from Segura in United’s half and storming 70 yards forward, nutmegging Powell before holding off Valentin before converting past Attinella.
United, with 24 points from 21 games, moved up to 8th place in the Eastern Conference with the win. They return to action on Sunday, when they host the New England Revolution at Audi Field.