WASHINGTON - With scarcely any sleep, in
sweltering heat and after losing their kit, Portsmouth ended a
farcical North American pre-season tour on Saturday with a 4-0
drubbing at the hands of Major League Soccer's DC United.
Relegated from the Premier League, in administration and
placed under a transfer embargo by England's football
authorities, Portsmouth could scarcely field a team during
their week-long tour of the United States and Canada, relying
heavily on youngsters with little or no first-team experience.
Stranded in Chicago by a lightning storm en route from
their last game in Edmonton, the players had just four hours
sleep the night before Saturday's game with DC United and with
no time to train for three days.
As if that wasn't bad enough, 14 bags went missing, including the one containing their kit, meaning they had
to play Saturday's game in a strip borrowed from their hosts.
They probably wished they had never arrived at all, after a
thrashing at the hands of the MLS strugglers, which included a
hat-trick by Australian striker Danny Allsopp.
"Probably that result summed up the tour for us really -
it has been extremely tough," Portsmouth manager Steve
Cotterill told reporters.
The journey from Edmonton had taken 27 hours. The flight
from England to their first game in San Diego took 42 hours.
"The time it took us to get here, we could have flown to
Australia," a furious Cotterill told Reuters after the game.
The newly installed Pompey boss has made no secret of his
frustration with the gruelling tour, organised before he took
over, and that he would have preferred to have remained in
England to try and assemble a squad for the approaching season.
Two players went home injured after the Edmonton game, one
with a broken leg.
Then goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown, trying to earn a new
contract after the departure of David James, went off injured
after colliding with a team-mate during Saturday's game, to add
to Cotterill's woes.
Pompey's weary players soon ran out of steam on the hottest
day of the year in Washington, with the temperature reaching 38 degrees Celsius in the RFK Stadium.
As that wasn't bad enough, three players were sent off,
including Portsmouth's Hayden Mullins, whose only offence was
to get into an argument with DC United's Santino Quaranta,
which Mullins admitted included "some swearing".
Quaranta then seemed to spit at Mullins and both men were
shown straight red cards.
Cotterill called the refereeing "ridiculous" and
"I can't believe he's been allowed to officiate a game," he
said. "I've never seen anything like it in my life."
It has been an incredible fall from grace since Portsmouth
won the FA Cup in 2008. On Saturday, the players were just
relieved to be going home.
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