D.C. United won the Carolina Challenge Cup for the second year in a row with a 2-2 draw against Toronto FC at Blackbaud Stadium on Saturday evening in Charleston, S.C. With the victory, United finishes preseason play undefeated with a 7-0-2 record, and now the club will turn its full attention to March 19 and the Columbus Crew. Head Coach Ben Olsen was pleased with his players' collective effort throughout preseason camp, but in the locker room following tonight's match he stressed the need to refocus for the start of the regular season.
"We have had a very productive [training] camp, and now our players will take two days to be with their families," said Olsen. "When our guys return on Tuesday next week, I expect everyone to recommit themselves to be ready to play on March 19 against Columbus."
All our eyes are now focused on the start of MLS play, and that hunger was evident tonight against Toronto FC at Blackbaud Stadium. Newly acquired forward Charlie Davies netted his fourth goal of preseason in the 12th minute, as Chris Pontius slotted the striker through on goal. Davies rounded TFC goalkeeper Stefan Frei with lethal speed, placing a weighted shot into the back of Toronto's net.
Said Davies of getting on the scoresheet, "As soon as you get one [goal], you play even harder hoping to get another. It felt good tonight to get a goal, and we are all excited to get out there for the real thing in a week."
Minutes later Toronto responded when forward Gianluca Zavarise won a penalty in United's area. Captain Dwayne De Rosario converted the spot kick in the 19th minute. TFC doubled its lead in the 28th minute when striker Maicon Santos battled with United rookie Perry Kicthen and was able to get a shot on frame, resulting in the go-ahead goal.
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Matters heated up in the 36th minute when Toronto defender Mikael Yourassowsky hacked down United winger Andy Najar from behind, earning him a yellow card. One minute later Yourassowsky committed the same offense, this time on Pontius, resulting in the defender's dismissal. TFC took a 2-1 lead into halftime, at which point Olsen made eight substitutions within his squad.
United found the equalizing strike in the 62nd minute when veteran midfielder Santino Quaranta drove into Toronto's area and centered the ball to forward Joseph Ngwenya. The Zimbabwean made quick work of the cross, putting the Black-and-Red on level terms. The strike was Ngwenya's team-leading sixth goal of preseason play.
United held on for a share of the points, allowing the club to hoist the 2011 Challenge Cup following wins over Charleston on March 5 and the Chicago Fire on March 9. The Black-and-Red return to Washington bright and early on Sunday morning, and the players will use the remainder of that day and Monday to prepare for a full week of regular season training. Anticipation is rapidly building for the club's sixteenth Major League Soccer campaign, so if you don't already have you ticket for March 19, make sure to act soon.
- D.C. United - Davies 12' (Pontius)
- Toronto FC - De Rosario 19' (PK)
- Toronto FC - Santos 28'
- D.C. United - Ngwenya 62' (Quaranta)
Onstad; Woolard (Burch 46'), Kitchen (Brasesco 46'), Jakovic (White 46'), Zayner (Korb 46'); Pontius (King 46'), McCarty (Morsink 46') Boskovic (Shanoksy 71'), Najar (Quaranta 46'); Davies (Brettschneider 46'), Ngwenya (Barklage 65')
Frei, Gargan, Attakora, Harden, Yourassowsky (Ejected 37'), Sturgis, Cordon (Cann 46'), De Rosario (Martina 87'), Zavarise (Makubuya 90+'), Peterson (Stinson 80'), Santos (Gold 67')