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Anatomy of a Goal – Theodore Ku-DiPietro

How many people had D.C. United scoring a game-winning goal in the 98th minute?  

Toronto FC v DC United
Ku-DiPietro puts away the winner in injury time.
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

From all accounts, D.C. United is entering a rebuilding year, which means a youth movement under Wayne Rooney. Many people expected a Toronto FC victory, but an injury time goal from DCU midfielder Theodore Ku-DiPietro dashed TFC’s hopes of a victory to open the season.

Let’s see what happened on this goal.

First, here’s a replay of Theodore Ku-DiPietro’s match-winnerr:


The feverish pace in extra time saw two consecutive chances at each end of the pitch – Bernardeschi’s movement into the box with an attempted cross, and Jackson Hopkins with a dangerous cross that sailed by Christian Benteke.

Richie Laryea threw the ball in from the right side on a restart after Hopkins’ cross went out of bounds. With a series of short passes, Toronto got the ball to Raoul Petretta on the left wing. Jonathan Osorio linked up with Petretta and played a bit of a give and go. Petretta then attempted to send a through ball to Ayo Akinola, but it was intercepted by D.C. defender Victor Pálsson. With a quick counter attack, the ball was placed at Mateusz Klich’s feet from Hopkins. Here’s what it looked like when Klich had the ball:

Credit: Apple TV

Kaye and Petretta have the Klich covered, so the turn and burn option is gone. Also, as a former Leeds United player, Klich is not known his pace at age 32. The other D.C. player coming into the frame, Andy Najar, picks up the pass at pace, leaving his marker, Osorio, behind him:

Credit: Apple TV

Michael Bradley is moving towards the ball to challenge, but Najar dribbles into space away from Bradley. There is loads of space on the left side of the pitch, and Najar sees Kristian Fletcher wide open and makes the easy pass.

Credit: Apple TV

As Fletcher sets to receive the ball, Left-back Mohanad Jeahze makes a run to create an overlap behind Laryea.

Credit: Apple TV


With the overlap created, Fletcher rolls the ball to Jeahze, who whips a quick cross into Ku-DiPietro.

Credit: Apple TV

Theodore Ku-DiPietro makes a clever run in between the two defenders and side foots the ball past Sean Johnson.

Credit: Apple TV


As the play develops, this angle of the buildup play shows a huge opening on the left side of the pitch. As all three midfielders (Kaye, Osorio, and Bradley) start on the right side, there is just too much ground to make up to prevent a pass.

Credit: Apple TV

D.C. United has width on the pitch, which allows Fletcher to receive a pass with lots of space and time to decide what to do. Laryea is stuck trying to defend two players, as Jeahze makes his overlapping run. While he tries to prevent the cross, he can’t close down on Jeahze fast enough to do so.

Credit: Apple TV

CB Matt Hedges shifts out to try to prevent the cross into the box, but to no avail. The other CB, Sigurd Rosted, is covering DCU striker Benteke. Osorio is left to mark Ku-DiPietro, but ends up a step behind and Ku-DiPietro scores.


1. Maintain Formation

Toronto lost its shape after the tying goal. There were instances in extra time when the team tried to force the play down the left side for Akinola, and were exposed on DCU’s quick counter attack. The midfield needs to make sure they’re covering enough space in the middle of the pitch to prevent a significant overlap as seen with this goal. The defensive back line maintained its shape but wasn’t spectacular. It seems the team is missing a midfielder to cover significant amount of ground during the match – hopefully a player on the current roster can meet that requirement.

2. Substitutions for Tired Legs

Osorio did not play in preseason, as he was nursing a lower body injury. Mark-Anthony Kaye is coming off an injury last season that kept him out of multiple games for TFC. Michael Bradley is 36 years old. Perhaps a substitution or two would have helped to provide some reinforcements to prevent two goals in the span of 8 minutes in injury. While Insigne’s injury forced a sub early on, there needs to be a second option in the midfield. Putting Brandon Servania in as an attacking midfielder/centre forward, while leaving Michael Bradley in the game, was an interesting choice to say the least. Bob needs to have more confidence in players like Kosi Thompson and Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty to come off of the bench to provide fresh legs.

In typical Toronto fashion, supporters are sounding alarm bells about this team after one match. While Insigne’s injury is troubling, (I would guess he’s out for 4 weeks with a groin strain), there needs to be more accountability and game management if Toronto FC is going to be competitive this season.