Three goals by D.C. United's Danny Allsopp bury Portsmouth
Sunday, July 25, 2010
As each day and hour passed, D.C. United's ill-conceived friendly with English club Portsmouth at RFK Stadium seemed to take a new and farcical turn.
It began with Portsmouth's utter lack of appeal beyond England's southern shores, resulting in an announced crowd of just 8,987 for United's 4-0 victory on an oven-baked Saturday evening not fit for athlete or spectator.
Financial ruin and recent injuries had left Pompey, as the 112-year-old club is known, with 15 available players for the finale of a four-game preseason tour. After playing in Edmonton on Wednesday, Portsmouth got stuck in Chicago because of a flight cancellation and didn't arrive in Washington until Saturday morning.
The players made it; their uniforms did not. Organizers awaited a last-minute delivery directly to the stadium. When it did not come, Portsmouth borrowed United's all-white ensemble (without names on the backs).
It looked like an intrasquad workout, and given Portsmouth's apathy, it turned out, for all intents and purposes, to be just that.
Australian forward Danny Allsopp needed just 30 minutes to equal his scoring total in 12 MLS appearances (two goals) and finished with a hat trick. After the second strike, the scoreboard clock flashed random times, as if possessed by the ghosts of a crumbling building.
The match turned nastier with each challenge, and at the halftime whistle, United Coach Curt Onalfo pointed and barked at Portsmouth bench personnel while being escorted to the tunnel. D.C. assistant Ben Olsen confronted the officiating crew and was ejected.
"I knew what their tactics would be -- they're in preseason, they're tired," Onalfo said. "Once we found our rhythm and started going at them, they decided to foul us on every other play. That's the job of the referee to realize that. It's not that difficult to see. It was a friendly, but it was heated."
Nine minutes after the break, MLS referee Jorge Gonzalez red-carded United's Santino Quaranta and Portsmouth's Hayden Mullins for a midfield exchange. United defender Julius James was sent off in the 89th minute.
Long before the ejections, United seized control on Allsopp's first two goals. In the 21st minute, Allsopp rose at the edge of the six-yard box and nodded in Pablo Hernandez's 35-yard free kick.
After David Nugent missed a sure equalizer from six yards, Quaranta squared the ball to Allsopp, whose first touch was too heavy. He recovered possession, however, carved some space and neatly side-footed a 10-yarder into the lower right corner.
Squandered opportunities on both sides and Pompey's hard tackles on Hernandez marred the remainder of the half.