December 11, 2019

D.C. United Game 30 Recap: Toronto overpowers United in D.C.’s final Open Cup prep

Toronto FC scored two goals in four minutes midway through the second half to break open a 1-1 match and eventually polished off D.C. United, 4-1, before an announced crowd of 15,879 at BMO Field in Toronto. The loss drops United to a record of 3-21-6 (15 points) for the 2013 Major League Soccer season. Toronto improved to 5-15-11 (26 points).

United are now the worst team in MLS by a full 11 points, trailing by that amount both Toronto and Chivas USA in the 19-team league.

The match was a glorified exhibition affair for United, who play at Real Salt Lake on Tuesday night in the U.S. Open Cup final. That match will present United with the opportunity to win its 13th major trophy since the club began play in 1996, and its first Open Cup since 2008.

As such, the lineup for today’s game was something you might see out of D.C. United in a February preseason friendly against Joe’s Dart Shop FC. Chris Pontius, Dwayne De Rosario, Luis Silva, Dejan Jakovic, Ethan White, James Riley, Chris Korb, Perry Kitchen, Nick DeLeon, and goalkeeper Bill Hamid all sat this match out. Midfielder Sainey Nyassi started in defense, youngsters Jared Jeffrey, Collin Martin, and Kyle Seaton all started, and Conor Doyle and Casey Townsend were among the substitutes.

Early, the result was about 10 minutes of constant Toronto possession to start the match, but TFC did nothing with it. Then, United took the lead in spectacular fashion in the 15th minute, thanks to Jeffrey.

Given plenty of space nearly 30 yards from goal in the middle, Jeffrey smartly took advantage of the opportunity, setting up a left-footed shot that sneaked in under the crossbar and into the corner to Toronto goalkeeper Joe Bendik’s right. Bendik dove full out to try and save it, but wasn’t able to get a hand on it as Jeffrey hit it at the perfect pace, in the perfect place, and got the perfect result.

The goal was Jeffrey’s second of the 2013 Major League Soccer season in this, his 6th appearance.

United held the lead, however, for just 10 minutes, as has often been the case this season, a D.C. advantage on the scoreboard was quickly wiped away.

This time, it was poor defending off a free kick that doomed United, as it has for much of the season. Nyassi, playing out of position, gave away a free kick deep on Toronto’s left. The free kick bounced across the penalty area, and United failed to clear. The ball eventually found the foot of Toronto midfielder Darel Russell on the right side of the area, and he hit a right-footed laser just off the hand of Joe Willis and inside the far post to tie the match.

It was Russell’s 3rd goal of the season and one that could have been prevented, either from United clearing the free kick in the first place, or if someone had marked Russell, who had plenty of room to Willis’ left to notch the equalizing goal.

For much of the season, United has struggled defensively – having conceded 52 goals in the league this season (2nd most; Chivas USA, 54), so without the normal starters, it was perhaps only a matter of time before the defense fell apart today.

With the match still 1-1 in the 67th minute, the dam broke.

Off a turnover, Toronto played a long and somewhat aimless ball up the right attacking flank. United midfielder Marcelo Saragosa was left on his own to fend off TFC’s Andrew Wiedeman. Saragosa had position, but let Wiedeman get by him, then dragged him to the turf. The assistant referee almost on top of the play waved his flag for a foul, but head referee Ted Unkel played advantage as Mark Bloom ran on to the ball unopposed for a cross.

That cross from Willis’ left was met by an unmarked Bright Dike, who volleyed the ball past Willis to make it 2-1 Toronto.

TFC increased its lead to 3-1 just 4 minutes later, after another United turnover in the attacking half. This time, it led to a 3-on-2 for Toronto in the United defensive third, with Wiedeman laying a ball off to his right for Álvaro Rey. Rey worked deep toward the end line and then tried to cross, but the ball was deflected by United defender Conor Shanosky past Willis for an own goal.

Toronto finished the scoring in the 87th minute when Rey possessed the ball in the penalty area, neatly cut the ball twice past United players (Saragosa and Casey Townsend), and finished for a fine individual goal.

United had but two shots on goal in the match, both in the first half, and never seriously threatened to make a game of it once Toronto FC assumed control in the second half.

All of today’s errors could be forgiven should United emerge victorious on Tuesday night, for what would be D.C.’s 3rd Open Cup title (United also won in 1996). There are but four matches left in the league season now, the next coming Friday night at RFK Stadium against the Chicago Fire (8 p.m. Eastern). United still need a point from its final four matches to not be the worst team in MLS history by points per game average.

TORONTO 4-1 UNITED

Goals:
DC – Jeffrey 2, 15th minute.
TOR – Russell 3, 25th minute.
TOR – Dike 1 (Bloom 1), 67th minute.
DC – Shanosky, own goal, 71st minute.
DC – Rey 1 (Braun 2), 87th minute.

Discipline:
DC – Martin, yellow, 37th minute.
TOR – Dike, yellow, 45th minute.
TOR – Russell, yellow, 62nd minute.
DC – Saragosa, yellow, 68th minute.

Statistics:
Shots:  TOR 12-7 DC
Shots on Goal:  TOR 6-2 DC
Corners:  TOR 4-1 DC
Fouls:  TOR 8-14 DC
Offside:  TOR 0-0 DC
Possession:  TOR 46.3%-53.7% DC

UNITED (3-21-6):  Willis; Kemp, Nyassi, Shanosky, Woolard (Doyle 46′); Jeffrey (Iapichino 70′), Martin, Saragosa, Porter (Townsend 80′); Pajoy, Seaton.

TORONTO (5-15-11):  Bendik; Henry, Morgan, Bloom, Agbossoumonde; Convey (Lambe 85′), Russell, Rey, Hall; Dike (Braun 82′), Wiedeman (Bekker 90′).

Ed Morgans is the D.C. United Page Editor for District Sports Page. For in-game analysis and story notifications, follow him on Twitter @writered21.

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