It was not for lack of effort, but the Black and Red will miss out on the postseason for a fourth consecutive year and the seventh time since they last won the title in 1999.
With the score tied 1-1, United threw everything they had at Portland in the waning moments of the game, but could not find the winner needed to keep their playoff chances alive. “That’s the way you want to go down,” coach Ben Olsen told the Washington Post, “every guy basically not being able to walk after the game. I’m proud of that fact.”
The final minutes of the game were like a heavyweight bout in which two weary fighters have dropped their defenses and are simply looking to land a haymaker. The midfield disappeared and the teams traded chances on goal in a thrilling end-to-end homestretch. DC thought they had the crucial winner in the 89th minute, but Blake Brettschneider was offside when he headed in Dwayne De Rosario’s cross.
The result keeps Portland (and Chicago) alive with one game to play, but to qualify, the Timbers need New York to lose to Philadelphia tonight (a tie will eliminate Portland), and will have to win at Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
Chicago’s odds are even longer: they need to win their finale against Columbus, then have Portland lose or tie at Salt Lake and New York lose big against Philadelphia—big enough for the Fire to overcome a five-goal deficit in goal difference.