D.C. United fans got a glimpse of the future in the club's 2-2 draw against Toronto FC on Saturday, as 17-year-old academy product Griffin Yow announced his MLS arrival with a dramatic equalizer in the game's waning moments.
With his club on the ropes, down 2-1 in second-half stoppage time, Yow came to the rescue as he ran onto a deflection off a TFC defender and deftly slotted home the leveler with his left foot. After the match, DCU head coach Ben Olsen said the goal was evidence of the type of growth he's seen from Yow on the training ground, which has resulted in him working his way into the first-team fold.
"Grif has really grown this year," Olsen said. "Last year he was fairly stagnant as a player and this year I think he's really committed himself to being a pro and he's got a lot of really interesting qualities. But one of his best qualities as a player is he just seems to be one of those players that gets real chances and smells chances. Twenty yards in, he can manufacture things. So tonight you get him kinda smelling where the ball is coming and he did a great job seeing the play out."
Yow certainly made an intriguing case to keep seeing the field for a DCU team that could use a shot in the arm in a 2020 season that has seen them struggle to score goals.
After the match, Yow said the goal was similar to his first goal for DCU, which was unofficial as it came in a friendly against Spanish side Real Betis last year, adding that the emotion of the moment was enhanced by the opponent. D.C. United and Toronto FC had a well-documented dust-up following a Group Stage match at the MLS is Back Tournament back in July.
"First off, I was told by the coaching staff, so props to them, on that wide ball to get in the box even though we did switch formations at the end and I was playing more of an outside back position, I was still told to be in the box," Yow said. "So, as soon as I saw the ball approach I knew I would have to hit it and for it to be a shot on target. It was left-footed and it hit off my foot really well and got great contact on it. That was an amazing feeling, honestly.
"I think this one felt a little bit better [than the Betis goal] because it was in the dying moments and it was against a team that we kinda had a little bit of beef with last game and we really wanted to get a point out of this game. So I think that release of emotions in the corner was party because of that."
Regarding his progression since last year, Yow said he feels as though he's playing with a different "confident and mindset" now that he's more comfortable with his surroundings, with the hope being that Saturday's goal is just the first instance of being able to make an impact in the game when he gets his minutes.
"Last year was a bit of an integration last year for me, kind of see what everything is like in MLS in my first year," he said. "This year I've just been really trying to get back to playing the way I play, whether it's with the youth national team or back when I was with the academy. I really just want to open up and play the play way I know I can play and play the way that got me here, basically."