Jermain Defoe couldn’t have kicked off his MLS career with a brighter start.
For the second straight week, Toronto FC’s new English forward scored the game-winning goal after he slotted home a rebounded effort by Gilberto on the hour mark, giving Toronto FC a 1-0 win over D.C. United.
It was a game that largely mimicked Toronto’s win last week, with the opposing side – in this case, D.C. United – controlling most of the ball and moving well around the pitch, but with Defoe’s goal the only differentiating factor between the two teams. It was a match that also provided a few moments of comedy, Michael Bradley bundling the referee over in the first half and a pitch invader interrupting play after the 90th minute.
The goal came after Bradley slipped a weighted pass to Gilberto, who took a shot at Bill Hamid. The D.C. keeper made a big save but the ball rebounded to the foot of Defoe, who slotted home, giving Toronto FC a 1-0 lead.
The first chance of the match occurred after Gilberto picked up the ball in midfield and made a 30-yard run, splitting the D.C. central defenders with pace. Rather than pulling the trigger, he slipped the ball to Defoe on the left. Defoe tried replicating his goals from last week’s game against Seattle with a curling finesse shot but Hamid made the save, one of many in that half.
Defoe had another chance to score late in the first half, picking up a low cross from Gilberto, but his shot hit the post and bounced out for a goal kick.
D.C. won a pair of corner kicks after the half-hour mark but they were cleared away by Toronto’s backline. The final minutes of the half presented Toronto FC with a pair of chances but the two teams went into the locker rooms level at 0-0.
Davy Arnaud and Bradley got into a rough head-to-head collision bringing the match to a stall about 20 minutes into the second half. Bradley was bandaged up and continued the game but Arnaud was subbed off for Kyle Porter.
D.C. controlled much of the play in the final 15 minutes of the game, with Toronto FC trying to hit back on the counter attack. Penning Toronto into their own half, D.C. attempted to find an equalizing effort but both Eddie Johnson and Fabian Espindola proved their efforts fruitless.
It’s the first time that Toronto FC has opened its season with a pair of wins. D.C. United play host to the Chicago Fire March 29 at RFK Stadium. Meanwhile, Toronto FC hits the road once more, taking on Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto, also on March 29.
United is back at it next Saturday, looking for its first win in the 2014 season. The Black-and-Red will host the Chicago Fire at 4:00 p.m. at RFK Stadium. BUY TICKETS
Goal: Jermain Defoe 60' (unassisted)
Disciplinary: Jackson 50'; Davy Arnaud 55'
DCU Starting XI: Hamid; Franklin, Boswell, Park, Fernandez (Doyle 82'); DeLeon, Kitchen, Silva, Arnaud (Porter 66'); Johnson, Espíndola
TOR Starting XI: Cesar; Bloom, Henry, Caldwell, Morrow; Jackson, Osorio, Bradley, Rey (Orr 83'); Gilberto (De Rosario 63'), Defoe