Bill Hamid’s last-second reflex save on Daniel Lovitz’ angled shot helped preserve a huge 2-1 win for D.C. United over Toronto FC tonight in Toronto, Ontario.
The win for United (8-5-4, 28 points) is their third road win of the season and more importantly it puts United back in first place in the Eastern Conference as they await Sporting Kansas City’s result tomorrow afternoon when they host the cellar-dwelling Chicago Fire.
Nick DeLeon’s second goal of the season opened the scoring in the 54th minute against the run of play as United had been second-best all night long. After the first forty-five minutes saw United defending in numbers and turning the ball over too easily, they decided to take a more aggressive approach and apply high pressure and it paid off for the Black-and-Red.
United’s high pressure forced a turnover and Luis Silva’s toe-poke set DeLeon off towards goal. DeLeon did well to keep TFC defender Nick Hagglund on his outside shoulder as he barreled towards goal with the ball. As he entered the penalty area, DeLeon spun TFC defender Collen Warren into the ground and unleashed a left-footed shot that squeezed between TFC goalkeeper Joe Bendik and defender Steven Caldwell.
Up to that point DeLeon was more of a hindrance to United’s play rather than a factor, mirroring many of the issues that plagued United through the first fifty minutes of the match.
United’s lead did not last long however as the home side equalized in the 60th minute. With United under heavy pressure, a shot from TFC midfielder Jackson was on goal and Hamid made the save but couldn’t handle it cleanly as United were very slow to react to the rebound and Luke Moore tucked the ball for his third goal of the season.
Undaunted though, United struck back in the 69th minute and got the game-winner thanks to a Perry Kitchen header off of a corner kick. Kitchen was unmarked in the middle of the goal box and simply headed the ball down after very accurate service from substitute Lewis Neal.
With the new found lead, United pulled back and defended well over the final twenty minutes and actually went ahead a man when Hagglund was red-carded for his pulling down of Eddie Johnson on a breakaway. Initially referee Jeff Gantar only issued a yellow card to Hagglund but after consultation with the fourth official and his far sideline assistant, Gantar “upgraded” the foul to a red card offense.
United seemed relatively comfortable playing out the final minutes but not without one more heart-pounding moment at the death of the match. In the 95th minute Kitchen made a routine clearance that resulted in a TFC throw-in at midfield. With only seconds remaining a last ditch ball was curled over everyone to the far post where TFC defender Daniel Lovitz was crashing in on goal. Lovitz’ one-time shot was struck goal bound with venom but Hamid seemed to come from out of nowhere to make a dazzling save to preserve the win for United.
United now will savor this rather unexpected result and prepare for a match in San Jose next Friday night at 11pm EST. This match will be shown nationally on the NBCSportsNetwork.