United fell for the second game in a row in Carolina Challenge Cup play Wednesday evening at Blackbaud Stadium. Chad Barrett and Dwayne De Rosario – from the penalty spot – scored in the first half for Toronto, while Chris Pontius registered a goal in the second for the 2-1 final score.
In the early going, United controlled possession and looked to have the better of play. In the 14th minute, a ball was played across half field to Luciano Emilio’s feet. The forward redirected the ball with his first touch into the path of Jaime Moreno who then played it square to Christian Gomez. Gomez returned the ball to Moreno deep in Toronto territory, who in turn laid it back for Ben Olsen. The midfielder struck a bending ball deep to the far post with his first touch to an open Chris Pontius, but the ensuing header on goal was corralled by goalkeeper Greg Sutton.
As the half progressed, Toronto maintained possessions of the ball and created more significant chances on goal.
In the 21st minute, Toronto got on the board after United was unable to clear the ball out of its box. As the ball bounced around United’s box, Pablo Vitti rose and headed the ball to the right to a waiting Dwayne De Rosario. The midfielder collected the ball and crossed it centrally to Chad Barrett who rose above his defender and headed it to the near post, past goalkeeper Milos Kocic, for the 1-0 lead.
In the 32nd minute, Toronto doubled its lead when Rohan Ricketts fed a ball through United’s defense to Amado Guevera. The Honduran international took a touch and got tangled up with Greg Janicki. Guevera fell to the ground and was awarded a penalty. On the ensuing spot kick, De Rosario placed the ball in the left side of the net as goalkeeper Milos Kocic guessed the wrong way and dove right.
Toronto almost got their third goal five minutes from halftime when Pablo Vitti fed a streaking Ricketts behind D.C.’s backline. Ricketts carried the ball into the box all alone on Kocic, but his shot missed wide right.
United had one final chance to get on the board in the half, as Ben Olsen whipped in a nice cross from the right side. Luciano Emilio rose and met the ball with his head, but Sutton was up to the task and wrapped the ball up fairly easily.
Head Coach Tom Soehn made a host of changes to his first half lineup and also moved the team into a 3-5-2 formation. The moves seemed to work, as United improved throughout the course of the second stanza.
It took United just three minutes to get on the board when substitute Boyzzz Khumalo collected the ball and fed a pass across the half line to Emilio. Emilio trapped and held off a defender as Khumalo sprinted up the right sideline. The Brazilian forward then turned and struck a lofted ball that landed just outside the goal box, which Khumalo ran onto and fed into the goal box, past Toronto’s defenders. The ball fell directly into the path of a streaking Pontius who scored on his first touch past a diving Sutton.
United continued to put pressure on Toronto’s defense, creating a handful of half-chances. One saw Pontius barely put one over the bar and another saw Wallace almost get hold of loose ball deep in Toronto’s goal box and sneak the ball past Sutton. In the 76th, a loose ball fell to Devon McTavish who hit a shot a few feet wide from 22 yards.
As the game approached the final whistle, neither team looked as if it were going to tally before the end of the match when, in the 90th minute, Francis Doe received a ball several yards outside of Toronto’s box. The forward dribbled inside the 18, cut back one defender and struck a shot on frame that Sutton barely got a hand to, pushing it just high enough to slam off the cross bar.
The final whistle would come moments later and leave D.C. at 0-2 in the tournament. The team’s final game in the Challenge Cup is set for Saturday evening against the host Charleston Battery. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.