Let’s see if this sounds familiar to anyone.
Take the lead after commanding most, if not all of the play in the first half. Give up the tying goal against the run of play, fall behind and then either defy the odds and score late to win or simply just score the tying goal in stoppage time to save your bacon.
That has seemingly been the script for United in the first third of this MLS season. Jaime Moreno’s 92nd minute penalty conversion was the final goal in a wild and wacky 3-3 draw with visiting Toronto FC in front of 15,652 spectators at RFK Stadium tonight. The goal was necessary because Dwayne De Rosario scored a goal of the year candidate in the 87th minute to give Toronto the shock 3-2 lead. Undaunted, United pressed forward for the equalizer and were correctly awarded a penalty when a ball was served into the box only to see Toronto captain Jim Brennan reach out his arm to deflect the ball away. Referee Baldomero Toledo did not hesitate to point to the spot and MLS’ all-time goal scoring leader roofed his kick past Stefan Frei to send RFK into hysteria.
The beginning of the match had a more mellow tone as United commanded the ball and rarely allowed Toronto to get across midfield much less string a pair of passes together. United’s movement off the ball and fluidity in attack was rewarded in the 9th minute when Ange N’Silu scored his first ever MLS goal. The goal wasn’t the prettiest in United history but it did the job. Devon McTavish, one of a stunning eight changes from Wednesday nights 1-1 draw in Kansas City, found his way down the left flank and crossed dangerously into the box forcing a punchout from Frei. United midfielder Fred quickly pounced on the ball and headed it to an open Rodney Wallace who’s theatrical side-volley attempt whiffed except for a slight touch that brought it back into the path of Fred. Fred quickly shuttled the ball to his right to an open N’Silu who took a controlling touch before scooping the ball past Frei for a 1-0 lead.
United then seemed to drop off their high pressure and allowed the visitors back into the match. Although Toronto didn’t register a shot on goal in the first 45 minutes, they did test goalkeeper Milos Kocic with a number of crosses that the Serbian easily controlled. United seemed to score in the 43rd minute when Rodney Wallace stripped Adrian Serioux in midfield and sped towards the top of the penalty area. With plenty of options the rookie from the University of Maryland slipped a ball behind the TFC defense for Christian Gomez who slotted easily past Frei only for the play to be ruled offside.
After the break N’Silu’s angled drive was saved by Frei in the 52nd minute and resulting long ball from Frei caused all kinds of problems for United’s defense. The seemingly harmless kick was allowed to bounce at the top of the goal area by Dejan Jakovic in an attempt to shield De Rosario from the advancing Kocic. Confusion reigned at that point and the inexperienced goalkeeper hesitated and gave De Rosario the chance to slip in and flip the ball over United’s keeper for the game-tying goal. The goal seemed to stun United as they had seemingly been in complete control of the match. In the 63rd minute a questionable free kick was awarded to Toronto on the right flank and the resulting free kick was headed into the far side netting by Adrian Serioux to give Toronto a suprising 2-1 lead.
United countered by bringing on substitutes Santino Quaranta, Jaime Moreno and Chris Pontius to try and salvage the match. United appeared to do just that in the 86th minute with a beautifully set up goal that had the magic hand of Jaime Moreno all over it. Rodney Wallace, playing his best match as a professional, got in behind Marvell Wynne and sent a ball back towards the penalty spot and the onrushing Moreno. Moreno then pulled off a classic dummy move and rookie Chris Pontius roofed the pass for the equalizing goal.
As the fans at RFK were celebrating the goal, the visitors took advantage of a United turnover in an attempt to grab the game-winner. De Rosario latched onto the ball at midfield and took off towards United’s goal with the defense in retreat. Instead of choosing to tactically foul to stop the counter attack, United defender Bryan Namoff took a half hearted lunge at the ball and De Ro easily deked to the inside and then curled a beautiful shot from 22 yards past the helpless Kocic.
A United team from seasons past might have just packed it in and felt sorry for themselves but it’s clear that this seasons team is putting together a special season and they went to the well once again and somehow managed to pull out another result when it didn’t seem possible.
- Ben Olsen and Andrew Jacobsen were rested in this match. Olsen made the 18 man team sheet while Jacobsen didn’t.
- Louis Crayton sat his second consecutive league match at home in favor of Kocic. Is something brewing here?
- United scored the first goal for the 8th time in 9 matches this season. Their record in those matches is 2-1-5.
- United has surrendered 12 of their 13 goals allowed in the second half.