TFC wins battle of bottom-feeders

KURTIS LARSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:52 AM ET

Former U.S. international turned D.C. United broadcaster John Harkes took a shot at Toronto FC midway through the first half Saturday.

A homer through and through, with United in front courtesy a Dwayne De Rosario penalty, Harkes had a bit of fun.

“There’s a reason (TFC’s) at the bottom of the table,” the former MLSer remarked.

Minutes after Harkes’ comments, the Reds equalized through Robert Earnshaw, his sixth of the season.

Four minutes before the break, TFC led 2-1 after D.C. defender Daniel Woolard nodded home an own goal.

Billed as a battle between two bottom-feeders — TFC and D.C. still sit 18th and 19th, respectively — the Reds emerged as the better of two struggling teams following a 2-1 win, Toronto’s first in 11 MLS games this season.

At first, it looked like a typical night, the Reds went down early through their own undoing after Gale Agbossoumonde took down Nick DeLeon just inside the area, leading to a questionable call from referee Hilario Grajeda.

“I think it was very dubious,” Nelsen said of the penalty. “That was a shame, because besides that it was a really good away performance.”

De Rosario converted low to Joe Bendik’s right to give the home side an early lead.

To United’s credit, the Reds failed to create anything dangerous from the run of play.

Set plays, however, were a different story, with TFC punishing the black and red on back-to-back restarts to close out the first half.

In the 31st minute, Steven Caldwell served in a ball that endlessly hung in the air until Earnshaw pushed off on Brandon McDonald before heading past Bill Hamid at the back post.

With both teams resigned to entering halftime at 1-1, Luis Silva’s line-drive dead ball skimmed off Woolard’s head and past D.C. ’keeper Bill Hamid to put TFC up 2-1 at the break.

The Reds didn’t threaten in the second half, instead sitting in to protect the one goal advantage they’ve relinquished late in games so many times this season.

Thanks in large part to Bendik, who once again came up big with a pair of second-half saves, that didn’t happen.

Two minutes after halftime, the ball sat up perfectly at the top of the circle for DeLeon, who struck a grass-cutter that forced Bendik down to his left.

Bendik came up big again in the 62nd when his reflex save denied De Rosario at the near post.

“I’ve probably sprouted about 1,000 more grey hairs,” Nelsen said. “In saying that, it looked like we were pretty much in control. Anything they were putting in was being dealt with. We had a feeling we were dictating the terms.”

In terms of clear-cut chances, United didn’t have one the rest of the way.

United’s Casey Townsend gave Bendik a scare with 20 minutes remaining, but his attempt from well outside the area flew just wide at the near post.

With the win the Reds (2-7-5, 11 points) put distance between themselves and the bottom of the table, with D.C. now five points behind and the last remaining team still in single digits.

“Sometimes it hurts before it gets better,” Nelsen said of the state of TFC. “We saw it out very well today.”


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