Toronto FC’s six-match unbeaten run came to an end at home to DC United on Saturday night.
United emerged 2-1 winners thanks to goals from Nick DeLeon and Perry Kitchen that sandwiched Luke Moore’s leveller, while the Reds lost Nick Hagglund to a late red card.
These were the bottom two teams in the Eastern Conference last year, but both have enjoyed better fortunes this campaign and this victory moves DC temporarily to the top of the pile.
World Cup stars make impact
Returning World Cup stars had had a huge impact already in the weekend, with the Houston Dynamo and Real Salt Lake both picking up a positive result for the first time in six matches. Michael Bradley’s reintroduction here saw Toronto dominate the early stages, with Bill Hamid blocking superbly from Jermain Defoe.
A lovely piece of skill from Bradley Orr then allowed Justin Morrow to square for Defoe, but the England man couldn’t stretch far enough to toe the ball home.
Bradley fired over from distance and Hamid made another smart stop, but by the time referee David Gantar blew for half-time United had gained a foothold in the match.
And in the 54th minute, DeLeon gave the Black-and-Red the lead. Having played a one-two on the right touchline and shrugging off the challenge of Hagglund, the Arizonan beat Collen Warner twice and placed a superb finish beyond Joe Bendik.
But the Reds were soon level. Defoe teed up Jackson, and when his shot was fumbled by Hamid, Moore pounced. The 28-year-old had only been able to figure in this game because his midweek red card against the Chicago Fire was rescinded in the days that followed.
Kitchen makes no mistake
Both Jackson and Hagglund missed had efforts just off target, but the match then swung back in DC’s favour. Lewis Neal’s sublime corner-kick fell on the head of the unmarked Kitchen, who made no mistake.
The Canadian outfit may have looked shaky at the back, but their forward play remained rampant as they went in hunt of a second equaliser. United were producing several crucial blocks in front of their own goal and even when Defoe did break through the defence, Hamid was there to collect.
As the visitors broke with Eddie Johnson, Hagglund hauled the United States international down on the edge of the box. Despite being the last man by a considerable distance it looked at first as though the rookie had somehow escaped with a caution, but after conversing with his linesman Gantar eradicated his mistake and dismissed the 21-year-old.
Undeterred, Moore flashed a strike just wide and the Black-and-Red goalkeeper made a stunning point-blank save from Daniel Lovitz’s half-volley. However, Ben Olsen’s men were able to see out time, thus earning their first win against Toronto in five games.
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