Toronto FC left it all on the field to win over D.C. United 2-1 at BMO Field after a drama-filled week that saw head coach Bob Bradley bench Italian star Federico Bernardeschi. The DP had called for change after a loss against Austin FC in remarks that Bradley deemed “out of line.”
The Red’s internal turmoil was all but absent on the pitch against D.C. United. The Black-and-Red immediately found themselves caught flat-footed as a fiery Toronto took them to task. Ripping through D.C.’s backline early, C.J. Sapong lobbed a cross to Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty in the center of the box. Marshall made quick work of getting a header on target to test Tyler Miller in the 2′.
Sapong would find a not benched DP, Lorenzo Insigne, in the 11′ for another dangerous attempt. Insigne’s shot forced Miller to make yet another save. This time at the top of his net.
If it weren’t apparent in the opening minutes of the match that Toronto meant business, Deandre Kerr set the record straight in the 14′ by capitalizing on a set piece situation to score with a header that slipped right by Miller.
The Black-and-Red were not at all themselves, being easily outpaced and outplayed by last-place Toronto. Wayne Rooney said, “I didn’t like the first half at all. I didn’t feel we showed the fight or the composure, or the intensity which I want. I was very disappointed in the first forty-five minutes.”
Rooney would send a message to the team in the 45′ + 1′ by making a triple substitution just moments before the halftime whistle blew. He removed Gaoussou Samake, Chris Durkin, and Ted Ku-DiPietro to make way for Pedro Santos, Andy Najar, and Taxi Fountas, respectively.
When asked about the substitutions, Rooney said, “I wish I’d had eleven. I had to keep the two in case of injuries, but the first half was nowhere near the standard that we set for ourselves.”
Heading to the locker room down one and with a clear message from their coach, the Black-and-Red needed to make timely changes if they hoped to take points away from BMO Field.
The second half saw D.C. United putting in the work to try and counter a rough first-half performance. But despite several attempts to find the back of Sean Johnson’s net, the Black-and-Red simply couldn’t find purchase.
In the 61′, a nasty collision between C.J. Sapong and Russell Canouse had everyone holding their breath. Both players seemed stunned by the force of the collision, which launched Canouse in the air, his body twisting until he hit the ground head-first. For a nerve-wracking moment, the captain lay motionless on the pitch as training staff rushed to him.
Thankfully, Canouse left the pitch on his own two feet and was conversing with the training staff that had come to his aid. Cristian Dájome entered the match in Canouse’s place in the 67′.
Insigne showed exactly why we chose him as a player to watch out for in our match preview as he found Kosi Thompson in the center of the box in the 72′. Thompson lobbed the ball right past Tyler Miller and into the top right corner of the net to double Toronto’s lead.
D.C. United wouldn’t leave Toronto without an answer. After a flurry of attempts by Fountas, Mateusz Klich, and Derrick Williams, Christian Benteke would finally send one home in the 87′, redirecting a bouncing ball to finally best Johnson. Although VAR took the time to determine if Johnson had been in possession, ultimately, Benteke was awarded the goal.
When asked if he was surprised with Toronto’s performance tonight, Rooney told the District Press, “No, not at all. I said this to the team before the game and throughout the week, whatever is happening behind the scenes with the manager, with certain players, with the club – normally, what happens is the team comes together, the players come together. That’s exactly what I was expecting. I was fully expecting a very difficult game from Toronto tonight. And I felt we was a bit complacent in our performance, and we’re not a team, we’re not at the level yet, where we can not perform at our best or certainly close to our best and win games. So, I think we got what we deserved out of the game. Toronto were exactly what I really expected from them.”
D.C. United will look to turn this week around, first returning home to face CF Montréal on Wednesday, May 31, then hitting the road again to play Inter Miami on Saturday, June 3.
MLS Regular Season – Game 15
Toronto FC: 2 Kerr 14′, Thompson 72′
D.C. United: 1 Benteke 87′
Toronto FC: Sean Johnson, Kobe Franklin, Aimé Mabika, Matt Hedges, Richie Laryea, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Brandon Servania (Kosi Thompson 19′), Lorenzo Insigne, C.J. Sapong (Hugo Mbongue 90′ + 1′), Deandre Kerr (Ayo Akinola 73′)
D.C. United: Tyler Miller, Victor Pálsson, Derrick Williams, Donovan Pines, Chris Durkin (Andy Najar 45′ + 1′), Russell Canouse (Cristian Dájome 67′), Lewis O’Brien, Gaoussou Samake (Pedro Santos 45′ + 1′), Ted Ku-DiPietro (Taxi Fountas 45′ + 1′), Mateusz Klich, Christian Benteke
Toronto FC: Kaye 45′ + 2′, Marshall-Rutty 90′ + 5′
D.C. United: Santos 69′
Featured image courtesy of D.C. United