Danny Allsopp scores three as D.C. strolls to victory at hot and muggy RFK.
Portsmouth arrived in D.C. the day of the match after being delayed in Chicago, and to add insult to injury, United Airlines lost their jerseys, so Portsmouth played in D.C. away uniforms. The English club had only 15 available players with most of their stars, who are waiting to be sold as Portsmouth tries to reduce their mounting debts, remaining in England.
The game, which was a friendly by name, and name only, became an ugly affair, with three red cards in the second half. Santino Quaranta and Hayden Mullins were ejected for spitting at each other, and Julius James was sent off in stoppage time for a late challenge. While the poor refereeing by Jorge Gonzalez couldn’t put a damper on D.C.’s spirits, it certainly put a damper on what was meant to be a friendly and celebratory match.
“An appalling performance from the referee – appalling,” said Portsmouth manager Steve Cotterill. “I can’t believe he’s been allowed to officiate a game."
While the refereeing was poor, the result was never in doubt. D.C. has struggled to score goals this season, netting just 12 in 17 MLS matches, but the goals flowed tonight. Danny Allsopp, who has had a poor season on the whole, was exceptional, scoring three well-deserved goals, one off of a header, two off of well placed far-post finishes. On another night, he could have had four or five, as the Australian missed some good chances as his legs tired in the second half.
“It’s been a difficult season for me so far, but it’s nice to get three goals tonight,” explained Allsopp. “It was a difficult game. They’ve obviously had a lot of turmoil at their club, bat as professionals, you have to get on with it, so that’s what we did.”
Although D.C. lost their past 2 league matches to Seattle Sounders FC and the Los Angeles Galaxy, their play was much improved, and they deserved more points than they received. Part of the improved play has to do with the new signings, Branko Boskovic and Pablo Hernandez. Hernandez in particular, has helped D.C.’s attack with his exceptional hold-up play and adept dead ball services.
Hernandez was rewarded tonight for his good work. In the 56th minute, after a spectacular passing sequence from United, Branko Boskovic found himself behind the defense, and he intelligently squared the ball to Hernandez, who tapped it in for United’s third goal.
The new signings have helped change the Red and Black’s fortunes, which was duly noted by Coach Onalfo.
“[Boskovic] helps us possess the ball, and gives us a little something more going forward. Pablo is helping us on set pieces and through the run of play, and you can see that he is just another quality player.”
While the win was a positive step forward for the team, it felt like an unnecessary addition to the mid-season grind. This was the fifth match in 15 days for United, and while it would have been a different story if they were playing a top European side, it felt like a superfluous distraction from the more important MLS season and U.S. Open Cup.
“It was kind of ridiculous to be honest-- they’ve been on the road all day, and we’re in the middle of a season,” remarked defender Carey Talley. “I think it takes away from the fans, it’s pretty unnecessary.”
United now looks ahead to a must-win league match in Salt Lake next weekend. Coach Onalfo is taking things one step at a time, though.
“We just continue to move forward. In the grand scheme of things, this team has made a lot of progress in the last 15 games in all competitions,” said Onalfo. “That’s what I take from it all and we’re just going to continue plugging away and continue to get better and continue to try to get points.”
Max Zeger is a Goal.com contributor. You can follow him on Twitter @maxzeger.