Photo by ISIphotos.com
By THOMAS FLOYD
WASHINGTON – Before D.C. United's match against Toronto FC on Saturday, many wondered if Dwayne De Rosario could continue tormenting his former clubs by turning in a strong performance against his hometown team.
The answer, as it turned out, was a resounding "yes."
De Rosario punished the organization that traded him in April, notching three goals as 10-man United battled to a frantic 3-3 draw with Toronto at RFK Stadium. The hat trick included an 88th-minute penalty kick that came moments after Toronto had taken its first lead.
The effort upped De Rosario's scoring account in a United uniform to six goals in six games, including five in the past two matches, with each strike coming against a onetime team of his.
"I'm definitely pleased with the fight and desire and heart that the guys showed," De Rosario said. "Playing a man down against any team is not easy. There are a lot of big hearts on this team and you saw it tonight. … Thankfully, those three goals helped us to come away with a tie."
Toronto (3-11-11) used goals from Peri Marosevic, Julian de Guzman and Danny Koevermans to share the spoils, keeping United (6-6-9) from securing back-to-back wins for first time since June 2009 or gaining its first triumph at home since early May.
D.C. played nearly the entire contest a man down after goalkeeper Bill Hamid received a seventh-minute red card, and he wasn't alone in hitting the showers early. United coach Ben Olsen joined him in the locker room when he was ejected following de Guzman's 69th-minute tally.
The long-range strike came as referee Jasen Anno allowed Toronto to play a quick restart, even though United was in the process of substituting centerback Ethan White for the injured Brandon McDonald.
"Any moment you can get like that, you take advantage of it," de Guzman said. "Many of the best teams in the world — how should I put it? — cheat when they have the chance to do something. It was a good opportunity for myself to find open space."
After the match, White explained that he was merely waved on as if he was an injured player re-entering the field, despite the fourth official instructing the referee to stop play for a proper substitution.
"I don't want to talk about the referees," Olsen said in reference to the incident. "I don't want them to be the story today. I think Dwayne De Rosario should be the story — and the heart of that group out there that got screwed every which way tonight and didn't get a call all night, but they found a way to get one point."
Substitute Austin da Luz drew United's penalty kick just seconds after Toronto went ahead on a corner kick. With a steady rain falling, Koevermans connected with the service and slipped a shot through the hands of United goalkeeper Steve Cronin, who had taken Hamid's place between the posts.
Although the goal was credited to Koevermans, Cronin said the ball deflected off Toronto's Andy Iro on the way in.
De Rosario gave United its leads in the 19th and 64th minutes. On the opener, he collected a short free kick from midfielder Santino Quaranta and rifled in a shot from distance. For his second, the midfielder-forward pounced on a failed clearance from Iro at the top of the penalty area and rounded goalkeeper Stefan Frei before slotting home his finish.
"[De Rosario] is fun to play with," said Quaranta, who logged the full 90 minutes after missing nearly three months because of a concussion. "He's a great finisher, and he's a very dynamic player."
The match took a drastic turn in the opening minutes when Hamid, who received his first U.S. national team call-up Thursday, charged outside his penalty area and took out Toronto midfielder Eric Avila with a reckless tackle on the right flank, earning a straight red.
"I was hoping to do well for my teammates and the club and show people what I can do, especially after getting the call-up," Hamid said. "It was unfortunate that I couldn't stay on for my teammates and back them up."
But thanks to a moment of brilliance from De Rosario and some resolute defending as Toronto heaped on the pressure, United went into halftime with a 1-0 lead. Marosevic, however, capitalized on a misclearance from Cronin to tap the equalizer into an empty net shortly after halftime.
The chaotic evening was nearly injected with one last dose of drama when De Rosario aimed a far-post shot in hopes of nabbing the winner and his fourth goal of the night. But the bid went inches wide, and both sides settled for the draw.
Perhaps Toronto coach Aron Winter put it best, simply referring to the night's proceedings as a "strange game."