Bright Dike's equalizer in the 79th minute canceled out Chris Pontius' earlier penalty kick as D.C. United and the Portland Timbers shared the points with a 1-1 draw Saturday night at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, Oregon.
Pontius had given United a 1-0 lead on the hour mark after referee Michael Kennedy had awarded a penalty against Portland's David Horst when assistant referee Craig Lowry flagged the defender for handling the ball in the area. Television replays were inconclusive as to whether Perry Kitchen's cross grazed Horst's extended left arm. However harsh the decision appeared, Pontius took advantage by finishing the penalty kick low to Joe Bendik's right.
With their own playoff lives hanging in the balance, Portland redoubled their efforts and they were finally rewarded in the 79th minute when Steven Smith's cross from the left wing got stuck under Andy Najar's body. With United unable to clear their lines, Dike got to the ball first, and finished high into the net from a tight angle to level the score.
The draw gave United their 51st point of the season and kept them alone in fourth place in MLS' Eastern Conference, two points ahead of fifth-place Houston and three points ahead of sixth-place Columbus (the top five teams in each conference make the 2012 MLS Cup playoffs).
United resume their long road trip Saturday afternoon when they travel to BMO Field to face Toronto FC. Kick-off is set for 1:00 p.m.