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D.C. United at Portland Timbers: United Survive Penalty-Mad Second Half To Win 3-2

D.C. United snapped the Portland Timbers' season-opening five-game winning streak as the Black-and-Red fought off a truly bizarre equalizer for Portland early in the first half and rallied to take a 3-1 lead before holding on to win, 3-2.

The drama began in the 64th minute when Dejan Jakovic was penalized for pulling down Kenny Cooper in the six-yard area. Cooper picked himself up to take the initial penalty, which was stopped by Bill Hamid going low to his right. However, assistant referee Eric Proctor raised his flag and ruled that Hamid had come off the goal line prior to Cooper striking the penalty, which meant it would have to be retaken. Cooper took the second penalty, this time going low to Hamid's left, and again the young United goalkeeper got on the ground to stop it. However, Proctor again ruled that Hamid had come off the goal line too early, and a third take was necessary.

With United's players and bench in an absolute frenzy, and Hamid booked for dissension, Portland head coach John Spencer tapped Jack Jewsbury to take the third penalty kick, much to Cooper's displeasure (the former 1860 Munich man was subbed out moments later). Jewsbury buried an unstoppable penalty kick low to Hamid's right to tie the game, 1-1 in the 68th minute.

To their immense credit, D.C. United kept their collective heads about them and continued to press for a go-ahead goal, which finally came in the 75th minute. A long ball from the right wing by Perry Kitchen was headed down in the Portland penalty area and eventually controlled by Chris Pontius. As Pontius squared up to shoot, however, Diego Chara came in with a sliding tackle, only to see the uncontrolled ball deflect off his hand right in front of referee Geoff Gamble (who was officiating only his second MLS game). Pontius himself did the honors, firing an unstoppable penalty kick high into the net past former United keeper Troy Perkins to make the score 2-1.

D.C. United appeared to wrap the match up in the 85th minute, as Josh Wolff, who had come on in the 51st minute to replace Joseph Ngwenya,chased down a goal kick by Bill Hamid that had been headed on by Blake Brettschneider and dinked past an onrushing Perkins to make the score 3-1.

But United were caught napping at the back as the clock approached 90 minutes, and Portland made them pay for it, as a long throw-in from the left side was just barely headed past the reach of a diving Hamid by Jorge Perlaza to bring Portland back to 3-2. Perlaza came very close to breaking United's heart in the first minute of stoppage time with a screaming left-footed shot from outside the box, but the ball banged into the advertising hoardings just wide of Hamid's left post.