Toronto FC takes advantage of weak opposition, beats D.C. United
Toronto FC midfielder Darel Russell (left) celebtares his goal as D.C. United forward Michael Seaton walks away during first half MLS action in Toronto on Saturday June 28, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, September 28, 2013 3:07PM EDT
TORONTO -- Toronto FC scored three goals in a 20-minute span of the second half Saturday afternoon to beat an undermanned D.C. United side 4-1 in a battle of the two worst teams in MLS.
The win snapped an eight-game league winless streak for Toronto (5-15-11). D.C. United (3-21-6) now hasn't won in eight games.
Bright Dike, Alvaro Rey and Darel Russell scored for Toronto, which also benefited from an own goal before an announced crowd of 15,879 at BMO Field. Midfielder Jared Jeffrey replied for D.C. United.
Dike's winning goal came in the 67th minute after referee Ted Unkel played advantage down the right flank after a D.C. United defender pulled a Toronto player down. Fullback Mark Bloom motored past the wreckage and sent in a cross that Dike volleyed home for his first goal in a Toronto shirt.
Toronto made it 3-1 four minutes later after Rey's cross from in close bounced in off D.C. United defender Conor Shanosky. Rey than dribbled around a string of defenders before slotting the ball home in the 87th minute to pad the lead.
With United playing in the U.S. Open Cup final Tuesday against Real Salt Lake, coach Ben Olsen shuffled his entire starting lineup to rest his starters. That meant no Dwayne De Rosario, Luis Silva, Chris Pontius, Dejan Jakovic, John Thorrington, Nick DeLeon, Bill Hamid or any other starter that featured in last weekend's loss in New England.
United dressed just 16 players, two short of the maximum. Five of the starters were substitutes last week against New England.
The starting lineup included 17-year-old forward Michael Seaton, making his league debut.
Toronto FC was without suspended defender Steven Caldwell, midfielder Jonathan Osorio, manager Ryan Nelsen and assistant coach Fran O'Leary. Assistant coach Jim Brennan, the franchise's first player and captain, ran the sidelines.
Toronto elected to start Bloom over Richard Eckersley at fullback. With both Eckersley and goalie Stefan Frei on the bench, that meant Toronto had more than US$500,000 in cap hit watching from the sidelines.
Goalie Joe Bendik, resplendent in pink as part of MLS's breast cancer awareness campaign, captained Toronto in Caldwell's absence. Bendik won the starting job after Frei was injured in the first pre-season game.
While the rosters were thin, the goals were of top quality.
Jeffrey's goal came in the 15th minute on a beautiful left-footed shot from Jeffrey from outside the penalty box that found the top corner while beating a diving Bendik. Defender Doneil Henry offered an unwitting assist with his clearing header going right to an unmarked Jeffrey, who notched the second MLS goal of his young career.
Russell equalized in the 26th minute after United was unable to clear a free kick. The ball was sent back in, bouncing off a D.C. United defender to Russell, who put the ball away acrobatically with a side-scissors kick.
It was the third goal of the season for the English midfielder, who specializes in highlight-reel scores.
Joe Willis made a great save, low and in the corner, off Dike in the 34th minute after a fine cross from Rey.
The Spanish winger almost scored himself in the 57th minute, curling a ball across goal that came close to dipping into the net in the swirling wind.
Toronto pushed the pace in the second half in a game where every set play seemed like an adventure waiting to happen
D.C. United is now 0-13-3 on the road this season. A game in Kansas City represents the last chance to avoid joining the 2011 Vancouver Whitecaps and three other teams as the only MLS clubs to go through an entire season without a road victory.
The victory was Toronto's 50th in league play in seven seasons, raising its career MLS mark to 50-103-66.
Unlike recent Toronto home games, the sun was shining and there was no rain.
Attendance at last week's rain-drenched loss to Sporting Kansas City was announced at a season-low 12,627. The previous season-low was 15,217, two weeks earlier versus Chicago.
Saturday was the penultimate home game for Toronto, which wraps up the season Oct. 26 at BMO Field against Montreal.
Notes -- Contest winner Ryan Jantzi, a 29-year-old pastor from Clinton, Ont., failed in his bid for a $1-million dream home in the "Million Dollar Real Estate Dream Shot" contest sponsored by Titan Equity Group. He had to score from the centre line into a very small opening in the net. While he came nowhere close, he did get a cheque for $10,000.