The MLS Eastern Conference's last-place team stymied its frontrunners on Saturday night, as Toronto FC were unable to break a 1-1 deadlock with D.C. United at RFK Stadium despite playing more than half the match with a man advantage.
United stormed out to a surprisingly dominant start and were fully deserving of their 1-0 lead, earned on a Kofi Opare header. But their good early work vanished in a flash when Lloyd Sam earned a straight red card just before halftime for a high, two-footed challenge on Chris Mavinga.
TFC drew level just minutes after the break on an ugly scramble in the D.C. penalty box that culminated in an own goal, and looked on course to grind down their hosts and find a late winner. But the shorthanded Black-and-Red held serve, breaking their six-game losing streak as a result.
- D.C. don't give up vs. TFC, even as playoff hopes fade
- Victor Vazquez thinks TFC needs "to be better" when opponents park the bus
- LAST CHANCE, MISSED CHANCE: This was Toronto's final visit to stately old RFK, which is set to host just six more MLS matches (notwithstanding any potential postseason action for United) as D.C. count down to the debut of Audi Field, their new home south of the U.S. Capitol. And it probably should've been a victory for the Supporters' Shield leaders, who forced 10-man United back into a shell but utterly failed to make it count:
Toronto FC enjoyed 80 percent possession in 2nd half but no shots on target— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) August 6, 2017
- CAN'T CATCH LUCHO: United playmaker Luciano Acosta continues to be his team's most exciting attacker, routinely bewitching would-be defenders with his skill and quickness. Michael Bradley earned a first-half yellow card for hacking him down, one of a whopping six fouls sustained by the diminutive Argentinean. D.C.'s opponents have made a habit of knocking around Acosta, who has grown accustomed to appealing to referees amid all that persistent infringement.
Truly impressed w/Acosta tonight. Bradley, Altidore, others, cannot keep u & have resorted to cheap fouls. Lucho, for once, remains unfazed.— Pablo Maurer (@MLSist) August 6, 2017
- REDS ROLL ON: It wasn't the best of nights for TFC. But they remain tops in the league both in total points and points per game, and have still lost just three times all year. It was easy to see why on this night; their 3-5-2 system constantly stretches and tests opposing back lines and their wealth of talent is evident, both in terms of starting-XI quality and depth across the roster. They'll be a tough out for any opponent come the postseason.