Goals by Nick DeLeon and Perry Kitchen gave D.C. United a 2-1 win over Toronto FC with all three strikes coming in a wild second half that came to a crescendo when TFC were cut down to 10 men in the final minutes Saturday evening at BMO Field.
Luke Moore scored a 60th-minute goal to level the game at 1-1 briefly, but Toronto FC were unable to take advantage of the return from the World Cup of midfielder Michael Bradley and lost for the first time in seven matches to end their three-game home winning streak.
WATCH: Full match highlights
They remain in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 21 points from 14 matches.
D.C. United, meanwhile, bounced back from their June 28 loss to the Seattle Sounders to take sole possession of first place in the East with 28 points from 17 games.
With TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen taking a page out of USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s playbook by employing Bradley beside Jermain Defoe up top in the same position he played in Brazil alongside Clint Dempsey, it was a relatively uneventful first half for both sides.
The lions share of the chances went Toronto FC’s way.
And Defoe managed to get three shots on goal but each was lapped up soundly by D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
Toronto FC replaced Bradley Orr in midfield with speedster Dominic Oduro to seemingly open things up even more. But it was D.C. that struck when DeLeon forced a turnover off Nick Hagglund from an advanced position and bamboozled the TFC defense before placing a shot past Joe Bendik to give D.C. United a 1-0 lead in the 55th minute.
But it didn’t take Toronto long to find an equalizer.
Jackson picked out Defoe, whose shot deflected onto Moore’s foot. The English forward tucked away the chance by sliding onto the ball to give Toronto the equalizing goal.
Second-half substitute Lewis Neal made his presence felt immediately for D.C. when he swung a cross into the box and connected with Kitchen, who got his head on the ball to beat Bendik and give his side the 2-1 lead in the 70th minute.
A bit of controversy marked the end of the game when D.C. forward Eddie Johnson got loose on a counter and was dragged down by Hagglund. The TFC defender was initially shown yellow for the encounter, but head referee David Gantar changed his mind after consulting with his assistants to change the booking to a straight red in the 88th minute.
Toronto created three dangerous chances in the five minutes of injury time, but the D.C. backline held strong and Ben Olsen’s men walked away with all three points.
D.C. United travel to Buck Shaw Stadium to take on the San Jose Earthquakes on July 11.
DCU Lineups: Hamid, Korb, Boswell, Birnbaum, Franklin, Rolfe (Martin 84'), Arnaud, DeLeon (Doyle 79'), Kitchen, Johnson, Silva (Neal 62')
TFC Lineups: Bendik, Morrow, Bloom, Hagglund, Caldwell, Orr (Oduro 45'), Warner, Jackson (Lovitz 77'), Bradley (Osorio 61'), Defoe, Moore
Scoring: Nick DeLeon 54' (Luis Silva), Luke Moore 60', Perry Kitchen 69' (Lewis Neal)
Disciplinary: Nick Hagglund 88' (red)