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D.C. United grinds their way to 1-0 road win over Portland Timbers

An own goal and some tough defensive play were enough to secure 3 vital points

MLS: D.C. United at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

An own goal fueled D.C. United’s 1-0 victory against the Portland Timbers on a rainy afternoon at Providence Park. A cross from Ulises Segura was deflected by a lunging Bill Tuiloma and into the Portland net, while United had what looked like a second own goal in their favor not awarded before halftime. The Timbers dominated the second half, but some rugged defensive play allowed the Black-and-Red to take the three points.

As expected, United opted for a conservative approach early, allowing the Timbers to have most of the possession. Plans to start forward Ola Kamara were derailed by a reported tight hamstring, with the Norwegian forward not even in uniform as a precautionary measure.

Following several attacks by Portland, United had a brief threat going the other way. Paul Arriola managed to break out and run with the ball before taking a shot that went right to former United goalkeeper Steve Clark.

The Timbers didn’t take Arriola’s opportunity lightly. Seconds later, the home side created enough space within United’s box for Diego Valeri to head the ball off the post following a cross from Jorge Moreira.

Portland would rue that outcome, as a defensive error handed United the lead soon thereafter. In the 25th minute, Junior Moreno opened up the field through the middle to set up Segura on the right. Segura fired in a low cross that Tuiloma attempted to deflect to safety, only to put it past his own goalkeeper.

The goal worked to strengthen United, who really should have had a second goal before the break. A threatening corner by Wayne Rooney — back from a two-game suspension — hit Eryk Williamson before deflecting off of Clark and crossing the goal line. United claimed a goal, which replays seemed to confirm, but referee Drew Fischer did not award a goal, nor was there a stoppage by VAR to take a second look.

After halftime, United dropped their lines further back, allowing the Timbers to become more menacing. Valeri went close twice during the early minutes of the half, which saw United repeatedly unable to do much more than clear their penalty area. The Timbers finished the match with 23 shot attempts and over 67% of the possession share.

Still, Bill Hamid wasn’t having to make many dramatic saves. Portland’s best chance actually came via a cross from Moreira that ended up not curling towards runners. Hamid scrambled backward, but had the crossbar to thank as the service hit the woodwork and bounced to safety.

10 minutes before the final whistle, a sudden break saw Segura find Arriola, who sprinted before striking the ball for Clark to tip against the post. Arriola’s opportunity served as United’s first real chance of the second half.

Despite spending the majority of the second 45 in a defensive position, United nearly found a second goal again as stoppage time approached. A counter saw substitutes Quincy Amarikwa and Luciano Acosta combine, but Amarikwa didn’t spot Arriola’s open run, and the attack fizzled out on the doorstep.

United went back into their defensive shell from there, battling their way to a critical road win. Now on 45 points, the victory takes them temporarily into 4th place in the Eastern Conference, with other results pending around the league. D.C. returns home next Sunday as they host the Seattle Sounders at Audi Field.

Box Score

MLS Regular Season (Game 31)
Portland Timbers 0
D.C. United 1 (Tuiloma 25og)

PTFC (4312): Steve Clark; Jorge Moreira, Bill Tuiloma, Claude Dielna, Jorge Villafaña (Andres Flores 79); Andy Polo, Diego Chara, Eryk Williamson (Tomas Conechny 61); Diego Valeri (C); Marvin Loria (Cristhian Paredes 85), Jeremy Ebobisse

DCU (4231): Bill Hamid; Russell Canouse, Frederic Brillant, Steven Birnbaum, Joseph Mora; Felipe, Junior Moreno; Ulises Segura, Paul Arriola, Lucas Rodriguez (Luciano Acosta 84); Wayne Rooney (C) (Quincy Amarikwa 79)

PTFC - Williamson 46
DCU - Rooney 64