United Cruises to 4-1 win over Toronto FC in their MLS Home Opener

DC United's home opener started amidst a flurry of fireworks above the field during and after the National Anthem's were sung. Suffice it to say United supplied the fireworks on the field as well scoring twice within the the first five minutes of the match on their way to a convincing 4-1 win over Toronto FC. It didn't take long for United to take command of the match according to goalkeeper Zach Wells. "I thought it was good, we came out with the right mentality. We were sharper on the ball. I think we had a lot more guys having good games tonight."

Luciano Emilio started the scoring when he got on the end of a header from Devon McTavish and slipped past Toronto FC defender Tyrone Marshall and slid the ball underneath unrushing TFC goalkeeper Greg Sutton to give United a shock lead with the game only 67 seconds old. United was not done however when just over three minutes later Emilio worked his way across the top of the left side of the penalty box and unleashed a 22 yard bomb that struck off the crossbar and bounded straight down into the path of McTavish who was well saved from Sutton only to have the rebound fall into the path of Santino Quaranta who sidefooted his shot past the helpless Sutton for a 2-0 lead.

After that initial burst United had a few more chances to put away the visitors but didn't convert. Toronto FC then managed to get themselves into the match putting together a few minutes of bothersome possession that resulted in a number of dangerous chances that Zach Wells did well to save. First was a point blank header from six yards out from Jeff Cunningham in the 15th minute and in the 18th minute he dove to his left to stop a well struck 30 yard free kick from Jim Brennan.

Things got very difficult for the Toronto however in the 22nd minuted when midfielder Kevin Harmse was red carded for a vicious tackle on United defender Gonzalo Peralta. United defender Marc Burch picked up a yellow card on the play as well when he shoved Harmse in defense of his fallen teamate.

United should have gone 3-0 up in the 29th minute when a good deal of possesion resulted in a cross from the left flank from Fred that was headed by Emilio and spectacularly saved to keep the game at 2-0. Strangely enough Toronto FC seemed the more aggressive side after going a man down. The United backline was getting pulled apart and they were unnecessarily giving up a number of free kicks around the goal area.

In the 40th minute, United earned a free kick from about 30 yards straight away and Marcelo Gallardo nearly opened his account on his home league debut but was denied from a fine diving save from Sutton. Gallardo had another chance in the 44th minute but his one time shot curled over the bar and then Emilio fudged a breakaway by attempting to chip the 6'6" Sutton and United went into halftime with a somewhat comfortable 2-0 lead.

United made a change to begin the second half by bringing in Jaime Moreno for the already yellow carded Burch and switched to a 3-5-2 formation with Moreno joining Simms and Gallardo in central midfield. The moved paid off in the 52nd minute when Gallardo indeed did open his account as he finished off an errant shot from Quaranta to effectively seal the match. The play started with a great buildup along the left flank when Moreno drifted across the box and fed Gallardo who angled a ball across the penalty area to McTavish who then touched it back to Quaranta who's shot/pass ended up right on the boot of an embarrassingly wide open Gallardo to tap in for an insurmountable 3-0 lead.

United thought they had a fourth goal in the 63rd minute but Emilio was called offside on a close play when Quaranta fought his way through traffic and toe poked it to the wide open Emilio only to have the goal called back. With Toronto FC obviously tiring, United went for the kill and in the 78th minute Moreno scored his 113th MLS goal after most of the work was done by 76th minute substitute Franco Niell. Niell beat a poor offside trap as Fred lofted a beautiful pass over the top of Toronto defender Marco Velez and Niell was in on goal. However, instead of taking his shot, Niell inexplicably cut back into traffic and somehow held onto possession of the ball long enough for Moreno to take the ball off Niell's foot and calmly slot the ball far post as only Moreno seemingly can do.

Niell then had a golden opportunity to open his account with United but his breakaway attempt went disappointingly wide right in the 82nd minute. The evening was not a complete disaster for Toronto as they spoiled Wells' home league debut with a goal from midfielder Maurice Edu's looping header in the 88th minute that saw Wells crash into the post in a vain attempt to keep the well placed shot out. With that United closed out an impressive and well deserved home victory in front of 20,161 fans at RFK.

Next up for United is their second leg tie with Pachuca of Mexico in the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Champions Cup. United trails the aggregate series 2-0 after a loss in Pachuca earlier in the week.

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