D.C. United caught a much-needed break on Sunday, getting a first-half own goal and then holding on for a 1-0 road win against the Portland Timbers in a key clash of teams fighting to stay playoff-eligible.
D.C. United (12-10-9, 45 points) nearly benefited from a second own goal in the first half, but it was denied on a controversial call after a VAR review.
The tough-luck defeat for the Timbers (13-12-4, 43 points), in a game played amid a steady rain, prevented them from making a move in a crowded Western Conference.
A loose ball in front of the Portland goal in the 37th minute bounced off goalkeeper Steve Clark and appeared to cross the goal line for a D.C. United score before it was cleared by midfielder Eryk Williamson. Officials did not find a frame on replay that showed the ball completely across the goal line.
There was no denying the first Portland miscue that gave D.C. United a 1-0 lead. Midfielder Ulises Segura delivered a cross in front of the Portland goal that was redirected by Timbers defender Bill Tuiloma and off the leg of Clark, who was moving in the opposite direction.
The goal in the 25th minute held up despite relentless pressure on offense by the Timbers in the second half. Portland had a 23-7 advantage on shots.
The defeat left the Timbers 7-4-2 at home the season as they work their way through a quirky schedule that started with 12 consecutive road games due to a stadium remodel. Portland is now in the midst of 10 consecutive home games, but is just 4-3-0 in that stretch.
D.C. has now won consecutive games after a three-game losing streak in mid-August. It was D.C. United's first MLS game since Aug. 31 because of the recent international break.
D.C. has three games remaining while Portland still has five games left to play.