TORONTO, ON. – Toronto FC and D.C. United faced off in Ontario on Saturday night in the opening round of the MLS Cup Playoffs. Without Jozy Altidore, Richie Laryea and the Reds needed to step up against a resolute DCU defense.
Richie Laryea, Toronto FC Undo D.C. United in Extra Time
The Reds got on the board in the 32nd minute. The were building slowly with numbers in and around the box. Alejandro Pozuelo shot from outside the box after making a move to create space. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid made the save but couldn’t prevent the rebound. Marco Delgado beat Hamid and a defender to the ball to score.
United’s best chance in the first half came minutes later on a corner. Steve Birnbaum had a chance with a header from the Wayne Rooney corner but he couldn’t direct it on goal.
The match opened up in the second half. Rooney nearly tied it with back-to-back shots starting in the 63rd minute. First he ran onto a long ball then cut back to shake off the two defenders. Quentin Westberg made the save.
Moments later, Rooney got the ball in the middle of the box but Westberg made the point-blank save.
Lucas Rodriguez scored three minutes into stoppage time. He tapped the ball in from inside the six yard box after Frederic Brilliant directed the ball from a corner to him. The 90 minutes finished 1-1 and headed to extra time.
Toronto FC dominated the first half of extra time on their way to victory. Richie Laryea scored on a nice run to the side of the net then beat Hamid across goal. Michael Bradley intercepted the ball just moments earlier, and threaded to the ball in traffic to Laryea to set up the shot.
Jonathan Osorio scored two goals minutes later to make it 4-1 and secure the victory. Nick DeLeon added a goal in garbage time against his former team. The match ended 5-1.
Toronto moves onto the second round to face New York City FC. United’s season is over as is Wayne Rooney’s time in MLS.
— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) October 20, 2019
No Altidore no problem: Altidore is one of the most dominent players in MLS Playoff history when healthy. Toronto needed to find offense elsewhere without him. It wasn’t a lot until stoppage time when Richie Laryea scored, but it opened the flood gates.
Stoppage time switch: DCU held their own in the second half with Toronto protecting the lead. A stoppage time goal should have had them carrying the momentum in extra time, but Toronto flipped a switch. They had the ball inside the attacking final third for most of it and got chance after chance. They turned them into goals.
Looking ahead: Assuming Altidore will be available, Toronto is in a good way going into the conference semifinals. They might not be a favorite to make the final, but New York City Fc would do well to take them seriously. On the other side, D.C. are headed for a rebuild with Lucho Acosta and Rooney leaving the club. What they look like in 2020 and whether they can compete for the playoffs are is uncertain.