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Recap: D.C. United Ties Toronto FC 2-2-, Wins 2011 Carolina Challenge Cup

Santino Quaranta set up the tying goal for United tonight
Santino Quaranta set up the tying goal for United tonight

Finishing tonight's match tied 2-2 with Toronto FC, D.C. United has won their second straight Carolina Challenge Cup, and finished the 2011 preseason with an undefeated record of 7-0-2.

And yet I don't feel all that great about it.

This game should serve as a wake-up call for United. Especially on defense. We looked inexperienced and unorganized at times, giving up one goal on a penalty kick that was created due to a Dwayne De Rosario cross after he got behind a United defender (Daniel Woolard?), and a second goal to the speedy Maicon Santos on a play that Perry Kitchen should have cleared out for a corner.

But the way that United came back and finished their chances was encouraging. If this was a 2010 regular season game, we would have lost 2-0.

Part of that is due of course to TFC playing with just 10 men, many of whom are trialists. And their tactics struck me as rather odd also. United scored a goal early in the match when Chris Pontius stole the ball from the TFC defense that was taking too long to move the ball out of the back and set up Charlie Davies. Toronto scored a goal when Stefan Frei punted the ball deep to Santos. And yet Toronto continued to try to play the ball slowly out of the back rather than punting it down the field. Odd.

On the other side, United's tying goal was quite pretty. Santino Quaranta beat his man on the right wing and drew out Frei, but rather than forcing a difficult shot, he smartly played the ball squarely across the goal mouth to an on-rushing Joseph Ngwenya, who finished clearly despite having a TFC defender draped on his back.

A tie was probably the fair result. And its one that will hopefully cause United to reassess their defense a bit. Its fine for a rookie to make mistakes in the preseason, but it ain't preseason no more.

The season is here. And United already has a Cup. The first of many for this young team? We'll see.