D.C. United, Timbers meet after impressive opening wins

League: MLS

Posted on: 02 Mar, 2024 at 04:26 AM

Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

After opening their season with a lopsided 4-1 win over the Colorado Rapids, the Portland Timbers will try to take another step toward their first MLS Cup playoff berth since 2021 when they host D.C. United on Saturday night.

The Timbers (1-0-0, 3 points) raced out to a 3-0 lead in the first 29 minutes and a 4-0 halftime advantage in their season opener against the Rapids, with 22-year-old winger Antony leading the way with a brace. Midfielder Eryk Williamson, back after suffering a right ACL tear in April 2023, opened the scoring just nine minutes into the contest.

"I think what you saw in the first half was a small glimpse of what the team can be," first-year Portland coach Phil Neville said. "We're almost resetting the culture in a way. I felt tonight there was a different feeling to the whole stadium. It was almost like there was a reset. There was a freshness. There was a new era."

D.C. United (1-0-0, 3 points), which finished 12th in the Eastern Conference in 2023, also has a new coach in Troy Lesesne, who went 14-10-8 as interim coach of the New York Red Bulls last season before signing a three-year contract with the Black-and-Red on Jan. 10.

Lesesne took his new team to Saudi Arabia for 17 days to implement an up-tempo, pressure-style of attack. He watched D.C. United's season-opening 3-1 victory over the visiting New England Revolution from the press box after picking up a red card in the Red Bulls' season finale last season. Assistant Zach Prince handled coaching duties on the touchline.

Former Premier League star Belgian national Christian Benteke led the way with a hat trick for D.C. United in the opener. Benteke garnered MLS Player of the Matchday for the opening week for his performance.

"I'm glad that he's in my team, that's for sure," Lesesne said. "This is something every coach wants, a guy who can score goals. ... Beyond the goals and the impact of the game, what's great about him is every single day this guy comes in and is probably the most humble guy in our locker room. He buys into everything that we do and he sets the example, and he set the example again tonight."

--Field Level Media