||0||1||De Rosario (PK) 19'|
Earnshaw 30', Woolard (OG) 41'
|Cautions||Woolard 45'||Caldwell 32'
Kemp for Thorrington 56'
Townsend for Nyassi 61'
Rafael for De Rosario 70'
Lambe for Convey 77'
Brockie for Earnshaw 80'
Russell for Silva 87'
Here's tonight's million-dollar question: did Toronto FC, on the back of a 30th minute Robert Earnshaw goal coupled with a 41st minute own goal off a Luis Silva set piece, beat DC United, or did the latter, whose reply was off a Dwayne De Rosario penalty won from a Nick DeLeon foul in the box in the 19th minute, lose?
How you choose to answer that question is up to you, of course; but given how bad a run of form TFC has been in, you are pretty much given a free pass to be as pessimistic as you'd like. Winless in 11, with the defense softer than room-temperature butter, and an on-loan striker in Earnshaw that hasn't scored in over 2 months. Plus, the team's talisman Terry Dunfield had just been released. It's enough to make even Ned Flanders cry tears of disbelief, and for parts of the match it almost seemed like the Reds could lose to the worst team in MLS.
Lucky for them, they didn't. The early signs didn't look positive: Lionard Pajoy would find his way through about a dozen Toronto defenders to plant a shot straight at Joe Bendik in just the third minute of play. Better teams with better forwards probably would have made TFC pay for that, but only really bad ones would let Earnshaw be almost unmarked in front of Bill Hamid just a minute afterward. The Welshman would find himself connecting with Darren O'Dea's cross, and if not for Marcos Sanchez keeping him marked, the game would likely have been much different. He missed an even better chance a few minutes later when he was completely unmarked about 10 yards out but knocked the ball over the bar form Jonathan Osorio's pass.
But before you could take a breather, TFC's defensive problems sprung up once again, and once again it would be an old nemesis in Dwayne De Rosario to make them pay -- albeit in a little different fashion than many of us would have expected. In the 19th minute, Nick DeLeon would win a spot kick after selling a Gale Agbossoumonde tackle that brought him down in the penalty area. The fall looked rather suspect on DeLeon's part and the call dodgy on the part of referee Hilario Grajeda, but it was the correct call and De Rosario would convert the spot kick, stoking fears that TFC could, somehow, lose the Basement Bowl.
Robert Earnshaw, whose earlier misses could be seen as a sign of intent, would make sure that didn't happen, as in the 30th minute off a Steven Caldwell rocket free kick from the edge of the Toronto half, Earnshaw he headed home the equalizer, outjumping Brandon McDonald and seeing his header bounce in off the post. Daniel Woolard would double the home side's misery just 11 minutes later, Luis Silva's free kick about 45 yards out found his head, and instead of going out, it went past Hamid instead. Joy unbound for TFC supporters, but then the cold truth of another half of straight-up defence hit them, and fear returned its normal service.
And for the most part, the second half was mostly defensive as DC tried to muster some pressure. DeLeon would have a go at goal two minutes after the restart, and would provide a juicy cross to De Rosario in the 58th minute, but Bendik would come up with the save to deny them both. TFC would finally see the back of their former captain in the 70th minute in favour of the young Brazilian striker Rafael, and despite much pressure from DC, though no real chances, the Godzilla-like rampage of late sub Darel Russell (who earned himself a yellow for a hard tackle, and minutes later could have got a seconb yellow for an errant elbow on Woolard in a 50/50 ball situation), along with the solid play of young Argentinian Matias Laba, would see out the game, sparking a mass exhalation in Toronto and across the country.
It wasn't the world's best performance from TFC, but in the end they were able to escape Washington with three points. The refereeing was largely okay except maybe for a missed opportunity to give Woolard a second yellow for a reckless challenge at the stroke of half and the soft call for the De Rosario penalty, but again TFC was able to do enough against the league's bottom side to snap an 11-game winless streak, and for once not give up a late goal even if the opposition didn't look like they would be able to do it, even in the presence of the evergreen Dwayne De Rosario.
But going back to the question at the beginning of this report: did TFC win this game, or did DC United lose? The fact is, it's a bit of both. Earnshaw's goal and Woolard's wrong-way header cannot mask the less-than-confident performance the team put in the second half. But with a date against the Dynamo in Houston next Saturday likely to bring the team back to Earth, why not enjoy floating on that Cloud 9 for just a little longer? At least, for us supporters anyway!
* * *
WTR'S GOLDEN TROPHIES/KICKS TO THE GROIN...
|Golden Trophy: Luis Silva
||Yay! Someone knows how to take a set piece!
|Golden Trophy: Robert Earnshaw
||Welcome back, good sir.
| Kick to the Groin: Ryan Nelsen
||What were you doing with the subs again?
| Golden Trophy: Joe Bendik
Kick to the Groin: Hilario Grajeda
||How did you get that penalty call wrong?!
|Kick to the Groin: Nick DeLeon
||You were so fouled, you had to fall over. Right.
|Kick to the Groin: Dwayne de Rosario
||Dude, your goal celebration looks like it's double your age.|
|Kick to the Groin: Gale Agbossoumonde
||DON'T GIVE THE REF AN EXCUSE TO GIVE A PK!
|Shots on Target||3||1|
|Passing Accuracy (%)||77||71|