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Frantic Finish Gains a Draw

DC United hosted Toronto FC last Saturday (June 1) at Audi Field. DC was shorthanded due to recent injuries and card suspensions (Peltola for a red last game, Dajome for yellow card accumulation) and started poorly, but rallied from a 2 goal deficit to get an exciting draw, 2-2.

DC played Bono in goal; Garrison Tubbs (making his first start), Birnbaum, Bartlett in defense; Santos and Herrera in defense/midfield, Klich, Hopkins and Stroud in midfield; and Benteke and Ted KDP at forward.

DC did not start well. In the second minute, Toronto's Federico Bernardeschi raced down the right sideline untouched and crossed to an equally untouched Derrick Etienne Jr in the center of the box, who buried a 15 yard volley past Bono for a 1-0 Toronto lead.

Things settled down a little after that, but there continued to be disturbing defensive gaps. Bartlett cleared a ball off the line in the 22nd minute, and in the 33rd minute Bernardeschi again came down the right side unmarked and threaded the needle between Bono and Birnbaum to make it 2-0.

DC played better for the rest of the first half, and had two good chances, but Birnbaum hit the crossbar, and Benteke's chip was deflected by Toronto goalie Sean Johnson. It was 2-0 at intermission. DC actually outshot Toronto 9-8 in the first half, but Toronto's 2 shots on goal went in, and DC's didn't.

Akinmboni came in for Birnbaum to start the second half; Birnbaum apparently felt something in his knee. I hope he doesn't end up sidelined for an extended period like McVey, who had the same thing happen to him a week ago. DC played well, as Toronto seemed to adapt a more defensive posture with a 2 goal lead. However, Benteke went down with an apparent leg injury in the 58th minute (untouched) and was replaced by Jacob Murrell.

With a very young lineup and a 2 goal deficit, things did not look good. However, soccer can be full of surprises. DC had a fair bit of possession and pressure. Santos came out for Fletcher in the 71st minute, and DC continued to press. Finally, in the 79th minute. Stroud had a good shot from the top of the box beautifully saved by Toronto's Johnson, but he could only deflect it. Ted KDP was first to the ball and slid it into goal to cut Toronto's lead to 2-1. It was Ted's last action, as he came out for PIrani immediately afterwards.

DC kept up pressure, and Toronto picked up two yellow cards in 3 minutes. Rodriguez missed a great free kick opportunity. In the 87th minute, Bernardeschi kicked the ball away after a foul. He received his second yellow card of the match and was sent off, giving DC a man advantage.

In the first minute of stoppage time DC won a corner, but play was halted for a VAR review. The referee decided that Toronto's Nickseon Gomis had pulled down Tubbs in the penalty area, and awarded a penalty and a second yellow card to Gomis, reducing Toronto to 9 men. Klich converted the penalty to tie the game, 2-2.

With a two man advantage, DC pressed for the winning goal. Bartlett missed a header where he tangled with the Toronto defender, but not enough for another penalty. Toronto picked up 2 yellow cards for fouling and delaying. Toronto actually had a breakaway that looked dangerous but fizzled out at the end. Immediately afterwards, Stroud scored but unfortunately Bartlett was offside on the buildup. After 11 minutes and 17 seconds of highly exciting stoppage time (see photo above) , the game ended 2-2.

DC ended up with 20 shots (8 on goal) and 10 corner kicks. An interesting statistic: Toronto had 9 yellow cards, all in the second half, and 5 in stoppage time, from 7 different players (5 had one yellow and 2 were sent off for 2 yellows). DC had NO cards.

Another interesting note: DC had 4 different captains over the course of the game. Birnbaum was captain in the first half. When he came out, Benteke was captain for about 15 minutes. When he came out, Santos was captain for about 20 minutes. When he came out, Klich was captain for the remainder of the game.

DC now has a two-week break before their next contest, Saturday June 15 in Charlotte. After 6 matches in 22 days it should be a nice rest, and will hopefully help the tired and injured.

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