D.C. United approached Saturday’s match with a chip on their shoulder, eager to flip the script on a disappointing week. After a draw on the road in Miami and a bitter loss at home against NYCFC, the Black-and-Red were hungry for three points - and a morale boost.
Despite the blistering heat and a delayed match start time, D.C. and Toronto FC brought the fight to Audi Field, going toe to toe for all 90’ - and then some.
It was clear that D.C. sought an early advantage. Taxi Fountas made a breakaway run in the 3’ toward Alex Bono on Toronto’s end. Weaving his way through a sea of opposition, Taxi took a quick right-footed shot with a ball courtesy of Chris Durkin, but his attempt was blocked.
Captain Steve Birnbaum took his chance a minute later with a header. While D.C.’s captain didn’t find the back of the net, the Black-and-Red’s testing of Toronto’s defenses wasn’t for naught.
Precision service from Julian Gressel found Michael Estrada out on the flank. With a quick touch, Estrada fired the ball to a waiting Edison Flores – front and center of Toronto’s goal. With a quick touch, Flores tipped the well-aimed ball past Bono to put D.C. on the board in the 7’ with his first goal of the season (his third in Black-and-Red).
Edison Flores with the finish!@dcunited open the scoring at home early. pic.twitter.com/0DVm0WqUpg— Major League Soccer (@MLS) May 21, 2022
Toronto was eager to find an answer, trying to capitalize on a free kick in the 25’ and a subsequent corner taken by Jayden Nelson. The Reds came up short both times.
Ayo Akinola would find the equalizer for Toronto. After a good turnover and a breakaway run, Akinola made his way deep into D.C.’s defensive end and found himself unmarked. He took advantage of the opportunity to slot a ball under Bill Hamid and bring the Reds level in the 36’.
Ayo Akinola with the equalizer for @TorontoFC!— Major League Soccer (@MLS) May 21, 2022
He just isn't missing from there. pic.twitter.com/o6oDurAqaj
Even with stoppage time added to the first half, neither D.C. nor Toronto could find an advantage before the whistle.
The Black-and-Red would find the lead again in the 56’. Gressel flung a ball forward to a waiting Taxi, but Bono closed in on him quickly. Under pressure, Taxi made a quick flick to a waiting Estrada who had driven forward to close out the play, his persistence paying off.
From provider to finisher— D.C. United (@dcunited) May 22, 2022
El Goleador restores the lead! #VamosUnited pic.twitter.com/hTbEWF8DZh
Toronto’s boost of confidence after Akinola’s equalizer would prove dangerous. As the sun set over Audi Field, the visitors became more energetic in their attempts to break D.C.’s defenses and their losing streak.
Just when it looked like the Black-and-Red would claim all three points, Toronto’s Jonathan Osorio came up big in the 89’ with a late equalizer. Neatly tucking away a shot into the lower right corner of the net, Osorio’s goal would decide the match.
Toronto equalize in the last minutes!— Major League Soccer (@MLS) May 22, 2022
Jonathan Osorio makes it 2-2 late. pic.twitter.com/reIf4OAWFZ
Five minutes of stoppage time wouldn’t be enough for the Black-and-Red to find another opportunity. At the final whistle, points were split.
Captain Steven Birnbaum said, “we’ve gotta button things up, and we need three points going into this game before the break. We need to start picking up some wins.”
The most contentious rivalry in the East will be live again on May 28 as D.C. United travel to Harrison, NJ to meet the NY Red Bulls at 7 pm ET.
- Edison Flores made good on the goal he had promised all week. We saw warning signs of an impending Edison Flores goal all week, especially on Wednesday as D.C. faced off with NYCFC. Flores finally made good on all the close calls by knocking in a beauty in the 7’ against Toronto.
- Michael Estrada and Taxi Fountas are just plain exciting to watch. What’s not to love about two DPs who can score thrilling goals AND give great assists?
- It’s the little things. Soft goals, set pieces, and unmarked men threaten to undermine D.C.’s high note plays.
MLS Regular Season - Game 13
D.C. United: 2 (Flores 7’, Estrada 56’)
Toronto FC: 2 (Akinola 36’, Osorio 89’)
D.C. United: (3-4-2-1) Bill Hamid, Brendan Hines-Ike (Donovan Pines 59’), Steven Birnbaum, Tony Alfaro, Julian Gressel, Chris Durkin, Sofiane Djeffal (Drew Skundrich 46’), Brad Smith (Kimrani Smith 90’), Taxi Fountas, Edison Flores (Nigel Robertha 46’), Michael Estrada (Ola Kamara 73’)
Toronto FC: (4-3-3) Alex Bono, Carlos Salcedo, Lukas MacNaughton, Luca Petrasso, Kosi Thompson, Michael Bradley, Ralph Priso-Mbongue (Jonathan Osorio 62’), Deandre Kerr (Jordan Perruzza 85’), Jesús Jiménez, Jayden Nelson (Ifunanyachi Achara 78’), Ayo Akinola
D.C. United: Hines-Ike 16’, Alfaro 23’, B. Smith 84’, Durkin 90’+3’
Toronto FC: Salcedo 10’, Jiménez (45’+1’), Osorio 80’