May 9, 2009 MLS DC United vs Toronto FC (from MLSnet.com)
Late goals lead to United, Reds draw
D.C. maintains first place in Eastern Conference
Charles Boehm / MLSnet.com
WASHINGTON -- D.C. United and Toronto FC gave their fans a night to remember on Saturday, trading blows in a breathless Eastern Conference showdown that saw the home side blow an early lead, only to race back and twice tie the game with stunning late goals on either side of Dwayne De Rosario's fine solo effort before ending in a 3-3 draw at RFK Stadium.
In one of the tenser finishes in recent memory in the nation's capital, United rookie Chris Pontius hit an equalizer that was immediately followed by De Rosario's wonder strike, his second goal of the evening, only for D.C. legend Jaime Moreno to net a late penalty kick that gave his side the draw in the dying seconds.
After resting several regulars in United's 1-1 draw in Kansas City on Wednesday, D.C. boss Tom Soehn again rang the changes, handing Congolese striker Ange N'Silu his second start of the season alongside Luciano Emilio up top. Further back, Devon McTavish partnered with Clyde Simms at the base of midfield, Fred returned to the first XI in a right wing role and rookie Milos Kocic earned another start in the nets.
United poured forward from the opening whistle, and the Reds defense broke down after less then ten minutes as N'Silu rewarded Soehn's faith with an opportunistic strike to give United the lead.
Wallace and McTavish combined neatly along the left side, allowing the latter ample time to curl a left-footed cross into the box. TFC goalkeeper Stefan Frei moved off his line but could only palm the ball over to Fred, who advanced inside and set up Wallace for an awkward shot attempt that squirted loose at the top of the six-yard box. The Brazilian midfielder latched on to the loose ball, however, and poked it to N'Silu. The rangy frontrunner was well-placed and did not err with his first-time shot, stabbing a tidy finish past Frei's shoulder for his first-ever MLS goal.
Toronto midfielder Kevin Harmse scuffed at a promising shooting opportunity just inside the D.C. penalty area in the 16th minute, but that was one of few exceptions to the one-way traffic as Kocic showed a safer pair of hands than he had against Dallas a week prior, comfortably claiming most of the Canadians' crosses and through balls.
Roaming the left flank as usual, Wallace cut inside to good effect in the 39th minute and seemed to have created his side's second when he slotted a short through ball into the path of Christian Gomez's subtle run into the box. The Argentinean laced an emphatic finish into the inside netting, but he had strayed offside and his effort was waved off by the assistant referee's flag.
The Black-and-Red continued to press at the outset of the second half, with Emilio narrowly failing to connect on several teasing crosses through the goalmouth. But in the 52nd minute Toronto dangerman De Rosario took advantage of a momentary hesitation between the youngest members of the United defense to conjure an equalizer out of thin air.
Traveling some 80 yards on the fly, Frei's booming punts forward had been discomfiting the D.C. back line and Jakovic invited trouble when, under heavy pressure from his countryman De Rosario, he allowed one such clearance to fall at the top of his own 18-yard box. Kocic was caught between two minds on the play and decided very late to come out and grab the bouncing ball, allowing De Rosario to nip in and flick it over his head to knot the score at 1-1.
The goal prompted a sea change in momentum as United saw all their preceding good work canceled out while their conference rivals from the north found new energy.
Having drawn level with the Route 1 approach, the visitors surely saw no reason not to continue probing with direct service into the box. About 10 minutes after De Rosario's tally, Amado Guevara curled a free kick from the right corner towards a mass of bodies at the far post and TFC defender Adrian Serioux rose high to thump a firm header into the top corner with a disgusted Kocic left flat-footed.
With RFK momentarily silenced, the visitors knew they were in the ascendancy, while Soehn opted for the savvy of veteran striker Jaime Moreno in place of N'Silu. The Bolivian soon made his presence felt on an alert one-two with Wallace, providing a wall pass that sent the rookie clear into the TFC box in the 66th minute. But D.C.'s left winger rolled his low shot inches wide of the far post as the RFK faithful groaned.
On the other side, second-half sub Santino Quaranta was trying to work himself into the match and in the 71st minute he tested Frei with a knuckling drive from outside the box, but the Swiss-born netminder was up to the challenge, safely gloving the effort at his near post.
TFC coach Chris Cummins cranked up the pressure by throwing burly targetman Danny Dichio into the fray, and the veteran Englishman nearly clinched the result some 15 minutes from time when he met Vitti's pass with a low shot that Jakovic did well to deflect wide.
But D.C. kept probing as time ticked away and second-half-sub Chris Pontius popped up to play the hero's role in the 86th minute. His roommate Wallace was the provider, sending in a low cross that Moreno craftily dummied, handing Pontius a clear chance that he did not waste, smashing home a one-timer at the top of the TFC box to tie the game at 2-2.
There would be more twists in the tale, however. De Rosario surged forward on a sterling solo run almost immediately, slaloming past Bryan Namoff before curling a crisp right-footed finish around a diving Kocic and into the twine, stunning the United supporters who had barely finished celebrating Pontius' leveler.
But Toronto sat back again, inviting pressure onto their back line, and they would pay the price in injury time. Namoff's inswinging cross from the right side took a double deflection in the box and Toledo, spotting the second touch skip off Marvell Wynne's arm, immediately pointed to the spot.
The crowd gasped, swinging from one emotional extreme to the other in a matter of seconds, but Moreno, Major League Soccer's all-time leading scorer, held his nerve. United's "Godfather of Goals" stepped up to the penalty kick and calmly dispatched it into the top left corner to push the score to 3-3 and provide a suitable ending for a stomach-churning, end-to-end affair.
Toronto FC (3-2-4) vs. D.C. United (3-1-5) May 09, 2009 -- RFK Stadium Scoring Summary: DC -- Ange N'Silu 1 (Fred 2, Rodney Wallace 2) 9 TOR -- Dwayne De Rosario 2 (Stefan Frei 1) 52 TOR -- Adrian Serioux 2 (Amado Guevara 4) 63 DC -- Chris Pontius 3 (Rodney Wallace 3) 86 TOR -- Dwayne De Rosario 3 (unassisted) 87 DC -- Jaime Moreno 3 (penalty kick) 92+ Toronto FC -- Stefan Frei, Marvell Wynne, Nana Attakora-Gyan (Danny Dichio 76), Adrian Serioux, Marco Velez, Sam Cronin, Amado Guevara (Rohan Ricketts 88), Kevin Harmse, Jim Brennan, Dwayne De Rosario, Chad Barrett (Pablo Vitti 46). Substitutes Not Used: Brian Edwards, Fuad Ibrahim, Johann Smith, Greg Sutton D.C. United -- Milos Kocic, Bryan Namoff, Dejan Jakovic, Devon McTavish (Chris Pontius 74), Marc Burch, Fred (Santino Quaranta 59), Christian Gomez, Clyde Simms, Rodney Wallace, Luciano Emilio, Ange N'Silu (Jaime Moreno 64), Substitutes Not Used: Louis Crayton, Greg Janicki, Avery John, Ben Olsen Misconduct Summary: DC -- Fred (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 40 TOR -- Jim Brennan (caution; Dissent) 92+ DC -- Chris Pontius (caution; Reckless Foul) 94+ TOR -- Dwayne De Rosario (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 94+ Referee: Baldomero Toledo Referee's Assistants: Greg Barkey; Jason Cullum 4th official: Andrew Chapin Time of game: 1:50 Attendance: 15,652 Weather: Cloudy -and- 83 degrees
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