After the Timbers snapped their 15-game MLS unbeaten streak with a loss against the Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday, Portland coach Giovanni Savarese told the media that he wanted to see how his group would respond from the rare defeat.
"The most important part is how we react to this defeat," Savarese said. "That will make the character of the team."
Savarese certainly didn't get the response he wanted Wednesday.
The Timbers conceded a soft goal in the first half and fell apart in the second half as they lost 4-1 to a weak D.C. United (6-9-6, 24 points) team at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. Portland is now riding a two-game losing streak for the first time since the opening two games of the season.
"We have to continue to work," Savarese said. "In the second half, they were better than us. They wanted it a little bit more than us and they deserved the victory."
The game started out well for Portland. After allowing two goals in the first half in their loss to the Whitecaps, the Timbers put in a much stronger performance in the first 40 minutes of Wednesday's game.
Timbers midfielder Sebastian Blanco helped to set up the first goal of the night as he found Andy Polo in the box in the 35th minute. Polo cut the ball back across the box for Samuel Armenteros, who slotted a shot under the hands of a diving D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid to give the Timbers the 1-0 lead.
It was Armenteros' eighth goal of the season and Portland's first goal from the run of play since a match against the Houston Dynamo on July 28.
But it was downhill for the Timbers from there.
D.C. United's Yamil Asad got on the end of a pass in the midfield in the 43rd minute. When the Timbers failed to close down the space, Asad dribbled toward goal and slotted a pinpoint pass in between Timbers defenders Larrys Mabiala and Lawrence Olum to D.C. United star Wayne Rooney. Rooney slotted the equalizer into the net as Timbers defender Julio Cascante leisurely tried to chase him down.
Savarese was clearly upset with the concession. At halftime, he told Root Sports that his group became "too casual" after scoring first and "conceded something very stupid."
"Difficult match," said Savarese after the game. "I thought we had a good first half up until the 40th minute. We started well. We did a lot of good things. We were compact. We created chances. We were moving the ball the right way, until we became too casual and allowed them to be able to score the goal."
Once again, it was clear that Savarese was looking for a response from his team in the second half. He didn't get it.
D.C. United midfielder Luciano Acosta somehow maintained control of the ball in the 47th minute after dribbling around multiple Timbers defenders at the top of the box. Acosta then slotted a pass off to defender Oniel Fisher, who scored to give D.C. United a 2-1 lead.
Rooney extended D.C. United's lead in the 68th minute when he fired a beautiful free kick over the wall and into the net.
Former Timber Darren Mattocks put the game to rest in stoppage time as he scored a spectacular goal on a counter attack to give D.C. United the 4-1 lead. It was Portland's most lopsided loss since falling 4-0 on the road to the New York Red Bulls on March 10.
The Timbers will now head to Kansas City where they will face Sporting Kansas City on short rest Saturday as they attempt to end their two-game skid.
"In the second half, maybe the guys didn't come in with the right mentality," Savarese said. "In the end, it's my responsibility, my fault. I take full blame for this defeat."
Notes: Argentine attacker Tomas Conechny made his Timbers debut in the game, coming on for Sebastian Blanco in the 73rd minute.