Portland coach pulls Kenny Cooper after PK attempts
The fireworks in honor of Memorial Day before the match between the Portland Timbers and D.C. United were nothing compared to what took place on the pitch Sunday afternoon at Jeld-Wen Field.
And it would be hard to picture more of a nightmare scenario for the Timbers. The club lost its first home match in MLS play 3-2. The Timbers were completely outplayed by a hungrier D.C. side. Perhaps worst of all, before the announced sellout crowd of 18,627, Portland experienced its first public fracture when striker Kenny Cooper got into a heated argument with coach John Spencer and Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury.
'We got out of the game what we thoroughly deserved - zero points,' Spencer said. 'They came in and played a good game. They were better than us individually and collectively on the day. We didn't deserve to get nothing from the game.'
The tone of the match was set early, when D.C. United (4-4-3, 15 points) scored in the 13th minute.
D.C. United midfielder Chris Pontius took a throw-in from the left touchline. He was able to send the ball all the way to the left side of the 6-yard box, where it found the head of Blake Brettschneider. The striker redirected the ball to the middle of the box. Perry Kitchen streaked in, unmarked, let the ball bounce and sent a right- footed shot to the left post, past Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
'It's disappointing the way we came out in the first half, shot ourselves in the foot, gave up an early goal,' Jewsbury said.
The argument between Spencer and Cooper happened in the 67th minute.
With Portland (5-4-2, 17 points) still trailing 1-0, Jeremy Hall threw the ball in from the right touchline. The ball reached the 6-yard-box. Cooper tried to make a play for it but was pulled down by Dejan Jakovic. The Timbers were awarded a penalty kick.
Cooper lined up to take the shot. He stutter-stepped and lobbed a soft shot to the bottom left corner. D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid blocked the shot. But the official ruled that Hamid had come off the line early during Cooper's approach.
The Timbers were awarded another penalty kick.
Cooper again lined up to take the shot. After stutter-stepping, he lobbed a shot at the bottom right corner. Once again, Hamid blocked the shot. But once again, the official ruled he had come off the line too soon. Portland was allowed a third PK.
Spencer had seen enough of Cooper, though. He called for Jewsbury to take the kick.
'The goalkeeper gets the upper hand on you once you stop the second one,' Spencer said. 'He starts to feel confident. We just couldn't take the chance. We had to put the ball in the back of the net.'
Cooper and Jewsbury both lined up to take the shot. There was an argument between the two. Spencer came out from the sidelines yelling for Jewsbury to take the shot.
Cooper argued with Spencer before stepping away from the ball and allowing Jewsbury to take the PK.
Jewsbury sent a missile to the bottom left corner, tying the score 1-1.
Two minutes later, in the 69th minute, Spencer pulled Cooper out of the match, replacing him with Ryan Pore. As Cooper walked off the pitch, Spencer slapped him on the back but did not look him in the eye.
After the match, Cooper was more than remorseful.
'I'm embarrassed by my actions,' he said. 'I made a mistake, and I should have shown more respect to our captain and our coach and not put up a fight like I did. So, obviously, I'm very sorry for that. But I'm happy that Jack put it in the back of the net.'
D.C. United went up 2-1 in the 75th minute on its own PK.
As Pontius made a run into the 18-yard box, Diego Chara went in for a tackle. Chara slapped the ball with his hand as he slid, and D.C. United was awarded the penalty kick.
Pontius scored, sending a ball down the middle of the net as Perkins dove to his left.
D.C. United scored again in the 85th minute to take a 3-1 lead. Reserve striker Josh Wolff received a pass as he ran down the center of the pitch unmarked. Perkins came out to try to meet Wolff and block the shot. Wolff fired as soon as he was inside the 18-yard box, and the ball got past Perkins to the far post.
'He was halfway ahead of me,' Timbers defender Mamadou 'Futty' Danso said. 'I saw Troy coming out, and the only thing I can do is start to run and cover the goal. But he hit the ball with so much pace I couldn't get to it.'
The Timbers made the match look closer than it really was in the 88th minute. Hall threw in a ball from the left touchline into the box. In between three D.C. United defenders, Jorge Perlaza leaped up and headed the ball into the goal, to Hamid's left.
It was too little, too late, though. When the final whistle blew, the Timbers' first MLS home loss was in the books.
Portland will try to wake up from the nightmare that was Sunday afternoon next Saturday when it faces Chivas USA on the road.
'(D.C. United) was the better team on the day,' Spencer said. 'Sometimes you get games like that, where on the day you meet a better team.
'Do I think they're a better team than us? No. But today they were. So the unbeaten streak is gone. Maybe that's a weight off the player's minds, so we can start to get refocused and start to look forward to the game at Chivas this weekend.'