Teenage substitute scores in 88th minute as D.C. United ties Toronto FC 2-2

WASHINGTON — A night to remember for D.C. United teenager Griffin Yow. Two more points lost for Toronto FC thanks to costly defensive miscues.

The 17-year-old Yow, who had spent a total of 115 minutes on the pitch in his six previous career MLS matches, scored in the 88th minute to lift D.C. United into a 2-2 tie with Toronto (6-2-4) on Saturday.

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Centre backs Omar Gonzalez and Chris Mavinga and goalkeeper Quentin Westberg all went for the same Joseph Mora cross. Gonzalez headed it straight to Yow, who volleyed it past an out-of-position Westberg for his first MLS goal.

D.C. (2-5-5) was gifted a goal in the fifth minute after Ola Kamara caught Gonzalez on the ball in midfield after an Alejandro Pozuelo back pass that did the big defender few favours. Kamara raced in alone and beat Westberg for D.C.'s first goal in 185 minutes.

"An absolute howler," said Vanney.

"We can't give away silly goals like we did at the beginning and we have to do better to clear balls when we're under a little bit of pressure at the end of games," he added.

It marked the second straight game that D.C. had rallied to tie Toronto. D.C. conjured up goals in the 84th and 91st minute to tie TFC 2-2 on July 13 at the MLS is Back Tournament in Florida.

Vanney called that game "a diabolical collapse of nonsense."

Toronto also led 2-0 in the Feb. 29 season opener in San Jose, only to concede two second-half goals in a 2-2 tie.

It was 1-1 after a first half Saturday that saw Toronto dominate possession despite some shaky moments on defence.

But the visitors turned up the pressure in the second half and an unchallenged Ayo Akinola headed in a cross from Pablo Piatti in the 60th minute for his sixth goal of the season — and first since a hat trick July 16 against Montreal at the MLS is Back Tournament.

Down 1-0, Toronto pulled even in the 17th minute when defender Donovan Pines failed to clear a Richie Laryea cross. The ball dropped straight to the feet of Alejandro Pozuelo, who knocked it in with his right foot for his fourth of the season.

Westberg made a fine reflex save in stoppage time to deny Erik Sorga and preserve the tie before empty stands at Audi Field.

The game was the first of an extended road trip for Toronto, which like Montreal and Vancouver faces having to play all of its remaining games in the U.S. because of pandemic-related border restrictions.

Toronto now heads to its home away from home in East Hartford, Conn., to prepare for New York City FC next Wednesday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. Then it's back to Hartford in advance of a "home" game Sept. 27 against Columbus Crew SC at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field, a 38,000-seat venue that is home to the University of Connecticut football team.

While MLS has yet to announce the rest of the regular-season schedule, Toronto expects to play six games in Hartford.

Jozy Altidore, who had little service in the first 45 minutes, was replaced by Akinola to start the second half. Vanney said he was having heel discomfort.

Yow also came on to start the second half, replacing the injured Mohammed Abu.

Laryea was yellow-carded in the 67th minute after his elbow caught Yamil Asad in the face. The incident went to video review but the card stayed yellow.

Piatti left in stoppage time due to cramps.

Eriq Zavaleta and Nick DeLeon started in place of Mavinga and Brazil's Auro as Vanney tried to protect the ailing defenders. Auro is suffering from an ankle bone bruise while Mavinga, who came on in the 75th minute, had trained one day out of the last six because of a quad issue.

Zavaleta, making his first start in league play since July 20, 2019, moved into the right centre back position, shifting Gonzalez to the left.

Toronto captain Michael Bradley continues to rehab a knee injury.

Hamid, who had been dealing with a personal issue, returned in the D.C. goal after missing four games. Defender Steven Birnbaum did not dress, joining an injury list that includes Paul Arriola, Russell Canouse, Felipe Martins, Edison Flores and Ulises Segura.

The game was free of the bad blood that marked their meeting at the MLS tournament in Florida.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 19, 2020.

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