Dwayne De Rosario scored three times for D.C. United, including an 88th minute penalty conversion just a minute after falling behind, in their controversial 3-3 draw last night against Toronto FC at RFK Stadium. United’s quest to win back-to-back league matches now stands at 26 months and counting. With Toronto and fellow bottom of the table strugglers Vancouver Whitecaps coming to town in back-to-back weeks, it seemed the right time to finally string together wins.
A couple of red cards, poor attentiveness from the lead match official and a few goalkeeping blunders later, United stands frustrated with their 3-3 draw. De Rosario gave United the lead in the 19th minute when he laced a shot from 25 yards that seemed to skip off the wet gloves of TFC goalkeeper Stefan Frei and into the net. United had taken the lead after their young goalkeeper Bill Hamid was sent off for a reckless and unnecessary challenge in just the 7th minute. It seemed that United defender Brandon McDonald had things under control in attempting to defend TFC midfielder Eric Avila. However, Hamid inexplicably charged out of the penalty area and upended Avila and was rightfully sent off, leaving United shorthanded for the next 83 minutes.
After United struggled to keep the clean sheet until halftime, TFC started pouring the pressure on and got their equalizer in the 52nd minute due to sheer luck. A cross from the left side of the field came into the box and Hamid’s backup goalkeeper Steve Cronin attempted to punch the ball clear but sent it off the back of McDonald into the path of the very willing TFC substitute Peri Marosevic who only had to poke it into the empty net. United soon took the lead back with their own bit of fortune in the 64th minute when Chris Pontius’ pass seemed destined to be cleared by TFC defender Andy Iro only to see it somehow wiggle through his legs and into the path of De Rosario who faked a shot and rounded Frei and deposited the ball into the empty net to give the home side the 2-1 lead.
However, in the 69th minute all Hell broke loose on the field. Ethan White was at midfield awaiting to be brought on for the injured Brandon McDonald. Referee Jason Anno waved White onto the field but only allowed him a few steps before telling TFC to move the play along. TFC quickly took the throw-in and a pass made it to the feet of Julian De Guzman and his 22 yard shot somehow got past Cronin’s hands and into the goal. United head coach Ben Olsen exploded off the bench and immediately wanted to know why White was not allowed to assume his position on the field.
Anno did not hesitate to send Olsen off and had to fight off questions from essentially the entire United team in how he could overlook such a routine situation. One train of thought that coursed through the halls and in the media after the match was that Anno mistook White for McDonald and was waiving him onto the field and thus the reason for not blowing the whistle to restart play, which is a requirement of the Laws of the Game when bringing a substitute into a match.
Controversy aside, twenty minutes still remained in the match and all seemed lost for the Black-and-Red when another goalkeeping misplay gave the visitors a 3-2 lead in the 87th minute. A poor clearance from a clearly tiring United defense saw the ball land at the feet of TFC’s newest Designated Player Danny Koevermans. The Dutchman’s shot was right at Cronin who again seemed to misjudge the shot and it squeaked over the goal line for what surely seemed the winning goal.
However, on a night when United seemingly were against the wall in all matters, they struck again thanks to some aggressive play from substitute Austin Da Luz. Right from the kickoff, Da Luz made his way down the left flank and before he knew it, he was alone against only Frei with the goal at his mercy. Frei made the initial save and was scrambling to get back into the goal when the rebound came right to Da Luz again. This time though, Andy Iro clumsily clattered into the back of Da Luz and Anno made his one right call of the night in awarding United a penalty. De Rosario stepped up and nailed the shot for a 3-3 scoreline.
United nearly won the match just a minute later when Chris Pontius, savaged with constant cramping the final 20 minutes, made a big run towards the TFC goal only to see him tackled off the ball just inside the box. The ball rebounded right into the stride of De Rosario who had Frei one-v-one and his fourth goal and the game-winning goal on his foot only to see his rushed shot trickle wide of the right post. Ethan White had a free header 6 minutes into stoppage time but his shot was easily saved by Frei to end one of the most unforgettable nights in RFK and United history.
- Referee Jason Anno has been known to throw around some red cards in his brief MLS career. After tonight’s two red cards handed out, Anno has issued an astonishing 19 red cards in 29 matches
- Because of the early red card to Bill Hamid, Stephen King drew the short straw and has his night end after only 7 minutes. Also because of that move, Ben Olsen was down to two moves to make and Charlie Davies never made it off the bench
- Santino Quaranta was a surprise starter in the lineup this evening after being out for over two months with concussion symptoms. Quaranta said he felt just fine, if not a bit tired after the match. He was not expected to go the full 90 minutes but with the early red card, he had to suck it up for the team