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FT: Toronto FC 5-1 D.C. United — MLS Cup Playoffs Game Thread

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The Reds begin their post-season run Saturday evening at BMO Field, can they make it a long one?

The last time these two teams played at BMO Field resulted in a scoreless draw in May
(Tagwa Moyo/Waking the Red)

GAME THREAD

FT: Toronto FC 5-1 D.C. United — Without Altidore and Gonzalez, Toronto advances to play New York City FC on Wednesday.

118’ RED CARD! Paul Arrioal gets sent off for taking down Richie Laryea who is having none of his hand shake after. D.C. United players playing dirty here to close the match

113’ — Patrick Mullins gets put through after some pretty looking build-up play from TFC. He can’t finish, however. On the other end, Westberg makes another nice save.

110’ — TFC need to be careful here. Important to stay healthy ahead of Wednesday in New York.

106’ — Wayne Rooney checks out of the game for likely the last time in MLS

HT of ET: Toronto FC 5-1 D.C. United: D.C. shouldn’t have scored that injury-time equalizer.

105’—GOAL!!! 5-1 TORONTO FC! WHAT A GOAL NICK DELEON. HAVE MERCY TFC.

105’— Most important update of the match: fan runs on field. Doesn’t even make it to half.

103’ — GOAL!!!! What a volley Oso!!!! 4-1 Toronto FC!!

100’— Fans chanting loud and proud around BMO. It’s going to be a party for the final 20 minutes or so.

95’ — GOAL!!!!!!!! JONATHAN OSORIOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! 3-1 Toronto FC. Off the corner!! TFC are ahead by two!!

93’ — GOAL!!!!!!! RICHIE LARYEA!!! What a turn by Michael Bradley. Goal is upheld after VAR. Laryea gets in behind again but this time finds the finish. Great ball by DeLeon as well.

91’ — We’re back. TFC with the better chances, yet here we are. Hopefully we don’t go to penalties with Toronto’s track record.

FT: Toronto FC 1 - 1 D.C. United... we’re going to Extra Time

90+4 — All of those half chances coming back to haunt Toronto FC

90+3 GOAL! D.C. United.... Lucas Rodriguez. 1-1... wow. Off the corner.

90+1 — Chaotic moment in front of the TFC net as Westberg comes out to clear the ball but can’t get it past Rooney. His attempt is cleared by TFC defenders.

90’+1 — Uncle Drew getting set to check into the match for TFC, as four minutes of injury time is announced.

87’ — It’s going to be an agonzing couple of minutes here at BMO... can the Reds hold on?

85’ — Wayne Rooney now playing deeper as a holding midfielder in an attempt to get him more on the ball.

83’ — Two minutes after coming on, Laryea skips past his defender and puts a teasing ball through the D.C. box. No Red could get on the end of it, however.

81’ — Laryea coming on for Benezet.

80’— Richie Laryea and Drew Moor are getting ready to check into the match.

77’— SAVE! OH MY WESTBERG!!! Kamara is in one-on-one but Westberg makes a spectacular save.

76’ — DeLeon providing an extra bit of grit and energy in the midfield, eventually creates a chance for Alejandro Pozuelo.

73’ — Marky Delgado goes into the book, as Tsubasa Endoh checks out for Nick DeLeon, who comes on to play against his former club.

71’ — Both sides are playing some really sloppy football right now. Wayne Rooney has given the ball away the last three times he’s touched it.

69’ — Another half chance for TFC as Pozuelo threads a ball across to Marky Delgado but his shot is blocked.

68’ — How big were those saves by Westberg!?

65’— CHANCE! Just like that, Wayne Rooney gets free — twice. But Quentin Westberg comes up big — twice! What a pair of chances for the D.C. United player

64’ — I won’t be comfortable until TFC score another one. Keep the foot on the gas pedal

60’ — Even people in the press box are yelling shoot as TFC come close. There has to be another one coming.

56’ — What a pass from Nicolas Benezet, but Marky Delgado can’t control it at the top of the box or he would’ve had a golden opportunity. TFC still looking like the better team despite leading 1-0.

54’ — For what it’s worth, Hamid has already dropped two catchable balls tonight. If you get a chance, make the GK work as Endoh does from a sharp angle which results in another TFC half chance.

53’ — Beautiful piece of build-up play by Toronto FC down the right side which leads to a Benezet chance. TFC still dictating the tempo of this game.

47’ — Most open Toronto FC have looked at the back so far down their right flank, but D.C.’s Kamara can’t make the most of the opportunity. Wonder if that’s due to a tactical change by D.C. and do TFC need to adjust?

46’ — We back. Toronto FC defending the North end in the second half.

HT: Alejandro Pozuelo led all players with two shots on target and two chances created in the opening 45’. Wayne Rooney created D.C.’s only opportunity. Let’s hope for a more entertaining second half.

HT: Toronto FC 1-0 D.C. United — Still a lot of soccer to be played. Should the Reds make any changes to begin the second half?

45+1’ — All things considered, it’s been a pretty good half for TFC. I’m not sure if I’d change anything yet if I’m Greg Vanney.

42’ — Not exactly sure why the D.C. United player went down there. Holding his face, he slowly walks over to the touch line, hugs his coach, and it looks like Felipe’s night is over. Hate to see it. Ola Kamara comes on for the holding midfielder

40’ — Osorio booked for simulation as he goes down in the box. Probably the right call

38’ — Not a bad response by D.C. since conceding. I expect them to come out pressing in the second half. Toronto may need another one to see this one home. Lots of time left to play.

35’— Let’s get it TFC! Stadium is more alive here at BMO.

32’ — GOAL! MARKY DELGADO!!!!! 1-0 Toronto FC!!! What a turn by Alejandro Pozuelo, but Bill Hamid should’ve done better as he drops the Spaniard’s attempt from about 25-yards out before Delgado pounces on the rebound.

30’ — This is just a Justin Morrow appreciation update >>>>>

28’ — I said it once, and I’ll say it again. If Toronto FC are scoring today, it’ll come off a counter attack

26’ — Set pieces are where Wayne Rooney and D.C. United are so dangerous. Back-to-back corners for the team from Washington here that are both (eventually) dealt with by TFC

24’ — CHANCE! The ball falls to Nicolas Benezet in the box after a great low cross from Justin Morrow but he can’t find the back of the net! Best chance of the game so far.

21’ — Extremely dangerous corner swung in by Wayne Rooney, but Westberg is fouled. The TFC goalkeeper did well to get a hand on the cross anyways.

18’ — A lot of interchanging up front between Toronto FC’s attackers. I’ve seen Pozuelo play in all three attacking positions so far. Best chance of the game early on falls to Marky Delgado but his volley from outside the box goes over the net.

17’ — Michael Bradley sticking on Wayne Rooney like a fly on s**t >>>>>>

14’ — Speaking of Pozuelo, good shot from the Spaniard from about 24 yards out on his left foot. Bill Hamid juggles the ball, but recovers comfortably.

13’ — It’s honestly tough to see TFC scoring from open play today unless it’s on the counter. Gonzalez’s absence leaves a lot to be desired in the air for the Reds as well. At least Pozuelo is looking lively up top.

10’ — Wayne Rooney jeered by the faithful at BMO. Hopefully we don’t hear a ton of that tonight. If we do, it could spell trouble for TFC

8’ — Not a ton of action early on. Probably as D.C. would have wanted on the road.

6’ — Rule of thumb, don’t judge how busy/full the stadium is until the 25th minute or so.

3’ — It looks like Pozuelo is indeed starting as the False 9 to begin the game. I think I’d rather see him there than on the wing.

1’ — LET’S WIN ANOTHER STAR. Well done South Stands

6:01 p.m — National anthems are done. Win or go home. Let’s get it #TFCLive.

5:56 p.m. — Dallas and Seattle is in ET, by the way. Will try and keep you posted on a result there. Supporters section is packed at BMO as Toronto FC are putting on a special pre-game spectacle for the fans.

5:54 p.m. — Marc Gasol introduced to the crowd before the game. He was at the march at Liberty Village

5:53 p.m. — Last time we were at BMO Field for a playoff match Toronto FC were lifting the MLS Cup.

5:50 p.m. — It looks like kickoff may be on time tonight, as National anthems are less than five minutes away. A lot of people still making their way into BMO

5:36 p.m. — Also, this Dallas - Seattle game is crazy. Currently 3-3 in the 89th minute and a VAR penalty debate.

5:35 p.m. — Greg Vanney opting to go with a 4-2-3-1 formation, as Pozuelo starts on the RW and Benezet plays as a striker, most likely in a False 9 role.

5:28 p.m. — Michael Bradley leading warmups in what could be his last game at BMO Field. We got some positive news this week regarding his contract negotiations, but as he mentioned, you never know.

5:20 p.m. — We need a big game out of Ciman and our midfield. This could have the makings for a special night at BMO Field.

5:10 p.m. EST — Dang. That’s a huge blow for the Reds. It’s still within reach, but dang.

BREAKING: No Omar Gonzalez, per KJ. Hamstring.

5:00 p.m. EST — Beautiful day here at BMO FIELD (Thank you Decision Day) as the Reds get set to take on Wayne Rooney’s D.C. United. As a Manchester United supporter, it’s really cool to cover this match, but I wouldn’t necessarily be sad if this was Rooney’s last game in MLS.


STARTING LINEUPS

No Gonzalez.. No Altidore. Welp. Pozuelo starts as a false 9?

Wayne Rooney up top for the visitors....


PREVIEW (Courtesy Brady Reid)

The last time an MLS playoff match took place at BMO Field, Toronto FC were crowned champions of the MLS Cup two years ago on a cold December night.

22 months later, the Reds are back in the post-season and thanks to a late surge (going unbeaten in their final 10 matches,) they begin their 2019 playoff campaign at home against D.C. United. The two sides come into Saturday’s match-up with identical records (13W-10L-11D) good for 50 points a piece.

While TFC head into the match in fine form, D.C. have been inconsistent down the stretch, finishing up their regular season with a 0-0 draw against a weak FC Cincinnati side (without Rooney due to suspension), a result which cost them home field advantage.

Both regular season battles between the two teams resulted in a draw. First, a 0-0 at BMO back in May where TFC held possession of the ball 71% of the match followed by a 1-1 result for the Reds away at Audi Field on June 29th when an injury-time penalty from Wayne Rooney salvaged a point for D.C.

The challenge for Toronto FC will be creating offence against a stingy D.C. side that allowed only 38 goals in the regular season (2nd in the MLS behind only LAFC who conceded 37 times.) While it’s likely the Reds while dictate much of the play on their own pitch, there could be concerns in the goal scoring department as questions remain regarding the availability of talisman Jozy Altidore.

Team President Bill Manning joined TSN 1050 Radio Thursday morning and suggested that Altidore would be a “game time decision” for Saturday’s playoff match. If TFC are indeed without the services of Altidore, head coach Greg Vanney has some difficult decisions to make to help fill the void left up front.

For Vanney and co., the focus remains on the task at hand and his side are confident heading into Saturday’s match, particularly with home field advantage in their favour.

“We feel like the second half of the season, we’ve been a good team... big excitement to be able to kick things off at home in our stadium in front of our fans” said captain Michael Bradley to the media following a Thursday afternoon training session.

Luckily for Toronto FC, in the case of a draw after 90 minutes, the MLS playoffs extra time format does include two fifteen minute halves prior to penalty kicks. The Reds penalty kicks struggles have been well documented of late thanks to a loss in the 2019 Voyageurs Cup final to the Montreal Impact in PK’s (Let’s not get into the 2016 MLS Cup Final.)

In a perfect world, TFC will be able to find a breakthrough in regulation time, be it through a banged up Jozy Altidore or perhaps a piece of individual brilliance from Alejandro Pozuelo.

In any case, Vanney’s side will take a result anyway they can get it in a single-elimination tie as they begin their quest to return to MLS Cup glory in 2019.

Additional Notes:

  • Wayne Rooney has agreed to join English side Derby County in a player-manager role beginning in January. A D.C. United loss would likely be the final match in Major League Soccer for the former Manchester United man.
  • D.C. United have failed to score from open play in three straight matches against TFC. Following a 4-4 draw back in June of 2018, both of D.C’s goals since have come courtesy of Wayne Rooney from a penalty kick and a free-kick.

PREDICTED STARTING XI

Toronto FC vs. D.C. United WTR Predicted Starting XI
Jeffrey P. Nesker

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