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.

Watch the highlights from Toronto FC vs. D.C. United

Box Score

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

Misconduct Summary

Toronto FC: Kaye 45′ + 2′, Marshall-Rutty 90′ + 5′

D.C. United: Santos 69′

Featured image courtesy of D.C. United

BySarah Kallassy

Managing Editor

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Ryan Hunt

I need to rewatch the first half, since I wasn’t paying much attention during it as I was doing the dishes, but the triple substitution still leaves a really bad taste in my mouth.

Yes, the team wasn’t performing great. Yes, the three players pulled could have been doing better. But pulling the three youngest players of your starting eleven off and replacing them with older, high paid veterans feels like it sends a poor message to the teams depth. Canouse, Klich, and Palsson weren’t having great games either and yet they get to stay on. Doing the triple substitution at half time would have felt better because then you’re not putting those three players under the impression that they were the problem with the first half as opposed to just part of the problem.

Maybe I’d feel different if the team came out playing better in the second half, but we didn’t. Toronto was the better team until around the 75th minute and, to me at least, the subs didn’t make an immediate impact.

(Also, like Pablo said, doing those changes before halftime gave TFC fifteen minutes to adjust to them for free)

David Rusk

I disagree. I think that Rooney’s remarks about how all XI could have been substituted (surely repeated but laced with expletives in the halftime locker room) removed that special onus on the three younger players substituted.

Rooney clearly wanted to put more proven offensive firepower on the pitch with Taxi, Santos and Najar. And as I saw it , DCU almost scored twice before halftime.

A poor display but DC did outshoot Toronto 19-11 . What was inexcusable was that Toronto almost scored on an unmarked header at 2 minutes and then scored on exactly the same play at 14 minutes.

BTW, I wish that MLS Apple would get Canouse’s name right instead of “Canals” in the subtitles.

Ryan Hunt

I don’t know. I still feel like it comes across as overly harsh. If this was an effective management technique then I wonder why we haven’t seen other teams use it more since the amount of subs was bumped to five.

Maybe Rooney is on the cutting edge but, to me at least, he seems more willing to let veterans ride through their mistakes while pulling the kids early.


In the World Cup final, the French coach made his first sub at, I believe, minute 37 because it was going pear shaped and they almost stole it in extra time at the death. Not making first half subs is a rut coaches live in. Nothing wrong with what Rooney did and do you really think Bradley with over 40 years coaching experience didn’t expect and plan for the substitutions of Taxi and Najar? Maybe not for Santos, but he was merely a replacement for a USL quality wingback with a human statue. Toronto’s players continued to run right past either Samake or Santos, so no adjustment was necessary.


Completely different scenarios, the French were playing the Finals of a World Cup, you make a sub whenever you need to, there’s no tomorrow. I don’t think anyone is raising an eyebrow for a first half tactical substitution it happens often enough, the brow raising is because he did it two minutes before the half. A rather odd moment to do so.

Bryan McEachern

It was a great call. Things were DOA. I agree with David’s assessment. Sub out 11 is a very frank assessment, and wholly directed at the entire squad. Also, the wee boys need to put on their pro pants and take a rebuke from a master player. They probably did, they don’t seem to holistically lack professionalism.

Talonesque #

Here’s hoping this was a crap MLS parity game, instead of a season changer. Felt like the former, but you never know, the game is so psychological.

Last edited 6 months ago by Talonesque #
Dean Dykema

That was a lackluster, mediocre first half performance lacking in intensity. At a professional level, there are consequences for that?!


Just a frustrating road game. Gave up a set piece early that let a not great but talented TFC team sit back.

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