Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By PABLO MAURER
WASHINGTON – Toronto FC travelled to RFK Stadium tonight in a battle of Eastern Conference basement dwellers. United is in the midst of a historically bad campaign, having won only 3 matches out of 25 played. Toronto hasn’t fared much better, sitting only seven points ahead of D.C. in the Eastern Conference.
It only made sense for neither team to win.
Dwayne De Rosario and Bobby Convey each found the back of the net, the match ending in a 1-1 draw. Both of the goalscorers struck pay dirt against their former employers; DeRo spent two tumultuous seasons with TFC, while Convey spent his first four MLS seasons in the District.
“It was ok,” said an exasperated Ben Olsen after the match. “We probably should’ve had a couple more goals and obviously we don’t like the way we gave up their goal. That’s about it. That’s about all I’ve got on the game.”
De Rosario’s tally came just 10 minutes in. The Canadian international put United on the board with an absolutely spectacular strike from some 30 yards out. United midfielder Perry Kitchen played a looping pass to the former TFC captain at the edge of the 18. De Rosario dribbled away from goal and towards the center of the pitch, then turned and struck a magnificent, curling ball towards goal that found its way past Toronto keeper Joe Bendik. The strike was DeRo’s third of the year, good enough to tie him with Luis Silva for the team lead.
Asked whether he knew the audacious strike had a chance at finding the back of the net, De Rosario smirked before replying: “Every time I shoot I think it has a chance.”
United found other opportunities in the game’s opening stanza. 27 minutes in, Silva, Jared Jeffrey and Nick Deleon combined on a lovely sequence of passes, though Deleon’s effort at goal rose just over the crossbar. The exchange was one of many between United’s midfielders, who played perhaps their best 45 minutes of soccer all year; United was dominant in possession, sent three times as many shots towards goal as TFC and found ample room to operate against an equally lackluster opponent.
The field did tilt a bit in Toronto’s favor early on in the second half, and Convey would equalize just 15 minutes in, running onto a Reggie Lambe cross and hammering it home from the penalty spot.
Convey’s strike would prove to be one of TFC’s only decent scoring opportunities of the match, as D.C. quickly regained control and pushed hard for the game-winner. Luis Silva nearly pulled United ahead in the 67th minute with a spectacular side-volley, though his attempt found the open arms of Bendik. De Rosario did his best to strike from distance again, but his 30-yard free kick attempt several minutes later was pushed wide by the TFC keeper.
Toronto’s best chance for a winner came some 10 minutes from full time, but Robert Earnshaw’s attempt from inside the 18 skimmed just inches from the base of the far post. In the end, the second half proved to be a tale of two teams desperately pushing for a win, something that’s eluded both sides all year. It was also a tale, however, of two teams who are pretty bad at finding the back of the net. A draw was only appropriate.
“We needed to get that second goal,” lamented Olsen. “They kept hanging around. It’s a little blow – this is not an easy tie to take.”
Here are the match highlights: