Chris Pontius’ 6th minute golazo gave D.C. United an early first half lead and United held on bravely through a dominating Toluca attack and conceded the equalizer in the 61st minute on a penalty conversion from substitute Israel Lopez.
United, playing with many regular starters either back home in Washington, D.C. or on the bench, survived an early onslaught from the home side in the first five minutes before Pontius’ strike from 30 yards silenced the crowd. Luciano Emilio won a 50-50 ball and it bounced into the path of Pontius who chested it forward and then unleashed a laser precise finish into the near side netting to give the Black and Red the early lead. Toluca, playing with a number of reserves themselves, finally figured out there was a match at hand and dominated for the next twenty minutes until United were finally able to gain some possession midway through the first half.
After the break Toluca continued their assault on goal but rarely threatened the ever aware Steve Cronin in net for United. He seemed sharp and on point all night long. United actually had an opportunity in the 58th minute to increase their lead. Substitute Rodney Wallace stole an errant pass in midfield and played a quick one-two with fellow rookie Pontius. The return pass hit Wallace in stride in the penalty area only to see his left-footed blast palmed over the bar by Toluca’s goalkeeper.
Just three minutes later the home side was level when United defender Lawson Vaughn awkwardly fell over Israel Lopez in the penalty area. The 35-year old easily beat Cronin and the match was level at 1-1. United wasn’t finished however and nearly regained the lead in the 63rd minute. Chris Pontius got loose down the right flank and sent a whipped in cross into the box where Devon McTavish’s diving header inched wide of the far post.
Toluca had a few more dangerous opportunities but Steve Cronin was up to the task and now United was wait until Thursday evening when Marathon travels to San Juan Jabloteh for the groups final match. Because of United’s draw, Marathon can only advance with a win due to losing their head-to-head tie-breaker with United.
D.C. United now travels back to town and will prepare for their final match at Kansas City on Saturday evening. United is currently in a four-way tie for the last playoff spot. Seven teams are still alive for the three remaining playoff positions.