May 9, 2009 MLS DC United vs Toronto FC (from MLSnet.com)
United relieved to get point against TFC
Late Moreno goal helps Black-and-Red salvage draw
Charles Boehm / MLSnet.com
Late goals lead to United, Reds draw
WASHINGTON -- Sometimes a soccer game can turn on a dime, switching tack so quickly that even the protagonists at the heart of the action are rendered dazed and confused afterwards, left to piece together the details of pivotal sequences.
Somehow, Saturday night's 3-3 draw between D.C. United and Toronto FC at RFK Stadium managed to pack a preponderance of those sudden reversals and momentum shifts into a frenzied span at the very end of the evening, thrilling and exhausting the spectators in attendance as the two teams traded three goals in the final eight minutes.
D.C. salvaged a point thanks to Jaime Moreno's late, late equalizer from the penalty spot. Yet afterwards, the home locker room had the air of a shell-shocked bunker as the Black-and-Red tried to reconstruct the strange turn of events like a forensic investigator struggling to make sense of a messy crime scene.
"It's a deep sigh of relief," said defender Bryan Namoff. "Luckily we were resilient. We came away with a tie, [but] it's an unfortunate couple of mistakes and we need to learn to limit some of those plays."
United dominated proceedings in the first half and forged ahead on Ange N'Silu's short-range finish just nine minutes in. But they failed to kill off the visitors due to some blunt finishing on either side of halftime and seemed to have totally blown their lead thanks to goals from Dwayne De Rosario and Adrian Serioux after the break.
"We got the early one, and when we came out in the second half we had a really good opportunity to put it away and really forced them to have to play. We kept pushing and we gave up a bad goal, and it gave them life so it's pretty frustrating on this end," said United head coach Tom Soehn. "Granted, they didn't give up and they get a tie out of it, but you don't walk away feeling good about this one at all."
De Rosario's opener was particularly galling for the D.C. boss. Toronto goalkeeper Stefan Frei hoofed a towering punt nearly the length of the field -- "the goalie punted it like 100 yards," marveled Dejan Jakovic afterwards -- and the wily Canadian international chased it down gamely before preying on a defensive error that might give Jakovic and D.C. netminder Milos Kocic nightmares for days to come.
"Their first goal, that's the goal that changed the game," said Kocic. "It's definitely my fault for that goal. It's a good punt from Frei and what happened is that it dropped between me and Dejan. Dejan shielded DeRo, he did a good job by shielding him and I had a clear ball -- somehow he put his leg up, I didn't see his leg and I was expecting to catch the ball, and he just tipped it over. It's a miscommunication, just a bad goal. It's definitely my fault."
Serioux used his size and strength to head Amado Guevara's corner-kick delivery into the net 11 minutes later. But D.C. persevered and with four minutes left in regulation, second-half substitute Chris Pontius let fly with a clutch one-timer from the top of the TFC penalty area, the rookie's third goal of the young season.
"There was a bunch of people in the box and I was just putting it on frame," said Pontius. "The 'keeper didn't have a good sight of the ball, and you know, I didn't even put it in the corner, I put it down the middle but he just couldn't see it."
But just as United seemed poised to regain control, De Rosario took advantage of the ensuing bedlam to embark on a solo run at the heart of the D.C. defense.
"Third goal, it was just a bomb," said Kocic. "We were spread too much, we were still emotional thinking about the goal we scored. We were all over the place and the fans were too loud, it was really hard to communicate, so everybody was spread out."
Moreno would have the last word, however, calmly burying an added-time penalty kick after Marvell Wynne handled Namoff's cross into the box. The experienced Bolivian expressed hope that his younger colleagues can take the wild evening as a cautionary tale.
"I thought it was pretty exciting," he said. "We relaxed a little too much in the beginning. We thought it was going to be easier and it got complicated. I think we learned the hard way, but at the same time it is good it came this early in the season so we know what's out there and to be prepared for that."
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