United wins Carolina Challenge Cup with 2-2 draw with Toronto FC

Charlie Davies is congratulated by teammates Chris Pontius (13), Joseph Ngwenya (11), and Dax Macarthy(10) after scoring against TFC in the Carolina Challenge Cup. Photo Tony Quinn

United were out on the front foot early and should have led 1-0 in the third minute. Chris Pontius picked up a loose ball and sent Charlie Davies in on goal. Davies rounded goalkeeper Stephan Frei easily but retreating defender Nana Atta-Kora forced Davies into a rushed attempt at the open goal and it dribbled wide left of the goal. Davies didn’t have to wait long for redemption as he put United up 1-0 in the 12th minute. Pontius again got hold of a loose ball and sent Davies into the box on the right side. His 15-yard blast shot over the hand of Frei and just under the bar.

United continued their dominance but was falling prey to a number of counter attacks that was catching the United back line playing a bit too high. In the 19th minute they paid for their aggression as Dwayne DeRosario easily got behind defender Daniel Woolard and centered a ball that was initially bumbled by Toronto midfielder Gianluca Zavarise. As he was about to compose himself for a straight look on goal, United midfielder Dax McCarty clattered into the trialist and the referee correctly awarded TFC a penalty kick. Dwayne DeRosario easily beat Pat Onstad to level the match at 1-1.

Toronto was not done by any stretch and in the 28th minute a rookie mistake by defender Perry Kitchen gifted TFC the lead. Goalkeeper Stephan Frei sent a booming kick over the United back line, again playing too high, that Kitchen was in good position to clear. However, he hesitated in his clearance and allowed the veteran Brazilian striker Maicon Santos to muscle the rookie off the ball and clumsily slot the ball into the side netting.

United, trailing for the first time in the entire preseason, became a bit unraveled and their usual clean passing and switching of the ball became poor touches and rushed balls over the top. However, late in the first half  Toronto gave United a lifeline when trialist defender Mikael Yourassowsky picked up back-t0-back yellow cards and was sent off. Andy Najar easily beat the defender and was grabbed around the waist for the first yellow and two minutes later Chris Pontius pulled off the same move resulting in the same punishment and United was up a man for the remainder of the match.

Unlike Wednesday nights match against the Chicago Fire when United was one-man up in the first match also, United took advantage of the situation and created a number of opportunities to tie the match. Kurt Morsink’s 30-yard bomb was tipped over the bar by Frei in the 52nd minute and Joseph Ngwenya’s 8-yard header scorched just over the bar just a minute later. In the 62nd minute, United would finally cash in on their pressure with a well-worked goal against Toronto’s bunker defense. Branko Boskovic sent a diagonal ball from the left flank over the defense hitting Santino Quaranta in stride. The Baltimore native easily chested the ball down and got behind the defense. With Frei coming out to challenge Quaranta, a simple square pass to a wide-open Ngwenya was deposited in the net to draw the match level at 2-2. With the draw in hand, United played out the rest of the match with little threat from Toronto and claimed their second consecutive Carolina Challenge Cup.

Carolina Challenge Cup Wionners. Photo: Tony Quinn.

D.C. United players celebarte their second consecutive Carolina Challenge Cup at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, South Carolina. Photo: Tony Quinn.

United Notes

  • United’s starting X1 for this match seems to be an indicator of what coach Ben Olsen’s lineup might look like next weekend against Columbus – Onstad, Woolard, Kitchen, Jakovic, Zayner, McCarty (C), Boskovic, Pontius, Najar, Ngwenya and Charlie Davies
  • United made 8 changes at the start of the second half bringing on Quaranta, Brettschneider, Morsink, King, Korb, White, Bresesco and Burch. Barklage and Shanosky made late appearances with only Onstad playing the whole 90 minutes
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