D.C. United (3) - Toronto FC (2) Postgame Summary

February 25, 2023 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Toronto FC News Release

February 25, 2023



DC - Mateusz Klich 13' (Russell Canouse)

TOR - Federico Bernardeschi 66' (penalty kick)

TOR - Mark-Anthony Kaye 83'

DC - Christian Benteke 90' (Theodore Ku-DiPietro, Mohanad Jeahze)

DC - Theodore Ku-DiPietro 90+8' (Mohanad Jeahze)


DC - Russell Canouse 56' (caution)

DC - Christian Benteke 60' (caution)

TOR - Federico Bernardeschi 79' (caution)

TOR - Richie Laryea 85' (caution)


D.C. United 1-0-0 3 points

Toronto FC 0-1-0 0 points


D.C. UNITED - Tyler Miller; Andy Najar, Victor Pálsson, Matai Akinmboni (Steve Birnbaum 78'), Mohanad Jeahze; Chris Durkin (Kristian Fletcher 86'), Mateusz Klich, Russell Canouse (C), Pedro Santos (Jackson Hopkins 86'); Christian Benteke, Nigel Robertha (Theodore Ku-DiPietro 67')

Substitutes Not Used: Alex Bono, Luis Zamudio, Ruan, Donovan Pines, Jacob Greene

TORONTO FC -Sean Johnson; Richie Laryea, Matt Hedges, Sigurd Rosted, Raoul Petretta; Michael Bradley (C), Jonathan Osorio, Mark-Anthony Kaye; Federico Bernardeschi, Adama Diomande (Brandon Servania 77'), Lorenzo Insigne (Ayo Akinola 34')

Substitutes Not Used: Tomás Romero, Lukas MacNaughton, Kobe Franklin, Shane O'Neill, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, Kosi Thompson, Jordan Perruzza


Sean Johnson, Matt Hedges, Sigurd Rosted, Raoul Petretta, Adama Diomande and Brandon Servania made their debuts for Toronto FC.

Sigurd Rosted and Raoul Petretta also made their MLS debut when they started tonight against D.C. United.

Mark-Anthony Kaye scored his first goal for Toronto FC.


Q. A disappointing ending to a game in which your team seemed to have made a comeback. What were your thoughts on the evening and secondly, I know it's early, but is there any word on Insigne?

I don't have word on Lorenzo. [He] Felt something in the lower leg, couldn't continue. So that's all I know at the moment.

Yeah, disappointing. Positive response in the second half. Pushed the game in a good way. Took the lead in the 83rd minute, and I thought between 83 and 90, we weren't managing things very well. A play down our right side, we didn't handle well, and then that led to that little sequence to cross to Benteke, who just backed up and got away from our defenders.

You know, at 2-2, we had one real good chance and then they had a chance. You know, the play at the end, we do a good job of actually playing out as they step up, and Raoul tries to slip a ball down the line to Ayo, and then it comes up a bit short. We just didn't do well enough in the transition and the ball got cut across. There's a lot to take but there are certainly positives in the way we went about things, and we'll try to build on it.

Q. Wanted to get your evaluation of Ayo's performance coming in as he did for Lorenzo, which couldn't have been easy for him.

Yeah, it's not easy to come in in that situation. He made some good runs. Got himself in some good positions. His first touch at times let him down a little bit when he had advantages. But he also caused some trouble and put himself in position to make some more good plays.

Q. The first half and the second half looked very different. First half you guys looked a little bit vulnerable through the middle and second half things looked a lot more controlled. How do you account for that disparity?

In the first half, we didn't do a good enough job of second balls. They played long. Obviously Benteke is a big target. Balls that came loose in the middle of the field at time we didn't do well enough with, so there were some moments in transition. It didn't amount to much, to be honest with you. Even the goal was a shot from distance, and we, toward the end of the half, started to become more dangerous, and then I thought we were able to continue that in the second half.

Q. When you're up a goal like that when you have the lead, what's the key to closing out games? Is it tactically? Is it mentally? What does it take to hold that lead and get those three points?

Yeah, it's all those things. It's being good with the ball and smart with the ball. Like I said, for six or seven minutes, I thought we still managed to keep the ball when they went long, we were handling those situations quite well and then yeah, the play down the right side, they got away from Richie a little bit. Richie's touch wasn't great. Obviously that's something Richie is so good at, handling a long ball with a guy coming on him. When that happens, it's just can we deal with the rest of the situation? When you look at the ball that got played across, we had good numbers in the box. It wasn't a situation where we got caught in transition that had no numbers. And the ball got clipped. And as I said earlier, what Benteke did, seemed to back up, and obviously he's great at getting off the ground. And so from that position, our defenders didn't do a good enough job of staying tight, so we didn't make some key plays and that's what cost us.

Q. You may have just alluded to my question, giving up three goals, never fun but your thoughts on your new centre back tandem and the performance from Matt and Sigurd tonight?

I think you see signs of really good things when you look at the game as a whole. What's most frustrating is to give up three goals on a night where it's not like we are giving up too much in the way of big chances.

But in key moments down the stretch, we weren't quite able to make a play. I know Sigurd well. He'll look hard at the play that led to 2-2 and he got caught a little bit flat footed and obviously, against a striker like that, you can't do that.

So there are little things that of course in the whole team when you give up three goals, we're not satisfied with. But I thought overall defensively there were a lot of positives and if we can continue to grow in those ways and not give away too many chances and control games, then I'd like to believe that that will also make a big difference in the overall defensive record by the end of the year.

Q. Do you think fitness played a part in the way that game played out? Wondering why there was only two subs made tonight?

There are some guys that were tired at the end. So at the beginning of the year, yes, fitness is a factor. I thought that the group had come from behind, had taken the lead and they were managing game very well, on the verge of finishing the game or maybe even getting a third goal. So in that moment we made the decision to leave those guys on the field.

Q. A lot of new faces out there for you today. I don't want you to go through everybody, per se, but I thought Raoul really stood out as a guy who stepped on the field and looked good from the start. What did you make of him this evening?

I would agree. I think Raoul has adjusted very quickly to the way we want to play, to the league, his understanding of the game. He's a very smart player. All those things I think are already there. Hopefully that's a good sign and we can keep building on that.


Q. What do you take away from a game like that? There was plenty of good in the comeback but also a fair bit of bad.

Yeah, I think it's as simple as you just said it. The good moments, we were able to play out of pressure, create opportunities going forward, get our attacks guys running into the box, Tyler had to make some saves and we were close on a couple chances, so we'll take that away as a positive. Defensive, obviously, I think they posed a different challenge today, playing long balls, trying to pick up the second ball, and if we want to be a really good team, we have to know when to adapt on the fly and just deal with whatever a team is trying to throw at us.

So I think it was definitely a challenge today. We were sloppy in certain areas. I was sloppy in certain areas. We need to go back to the training ground and understand how important it is to be clean every day and understand that when we go out here, it's going to be tough. It's not going to be easy. Teams in this league are getting better. The competition level is getting better and it's just a fight every day.

I'm happy that we got our first game together in this intensity, you know, out of the way. I think now we have a better understanding of what it's going to take to stay in games and to create more opportunities. But yeah, today was a weird one.

Q. Was there an emotional letdown after you scored and the team went ahead or was fatigue involved?

No, I don't think there was an emotional letdown. I think we understood that the game wasn't over. There was still time to play. There's maybe eight minutes left, and then plus extra time. So we just wanted to keep doing the same thing in terms of dealing with how they are trying to attack us and make sure we can create opportunities.

The game wasn't done when I scored, so I don't think there was emotional letdown and I don't think fatigue played a factor. They were just clinical in moments and we weren't because if you look at the last, I don't know, 10 to 15 minutes, we have good chances, they have good chances, and they just capitalized on more of theirs than we did, and that's how the score ended at 3-2.

Q. You took your goal really well. It didn't look like it was an easy finish. Can you just sort of describe the play? Did you anticipate it coming off the post like it did?

Yeah, you know, obviously I'm hoping that Fede just scores right off the bat from the free kick but I just wanted to be in the box in the right spot, just in case there was a save or rebound. Fede does have a really hard strike, so if the goalie does get a finger to it, it usually is going to be parried somewhere in front of the goal.

So I wanted to put myself in the best chance to score. I just believed the chance would, and it did, and I just made sure to hit the back of the net. So yeah, obviously it's bittersweet losing and scoring a goal but it's a long season and hopefully I can add more to my tally and help the team win more games.

Q. I know it's always difficult to talk about a personal moment after a defeat but I think that was your first goal for TFC. Seemed like you relished it. Can you walk us through what was going through your mind?

I cramped, honestly, as soon as I scored. It went from joy to oh, no. But I was fine after getting stretched by Ayo. Honestly, I didn't even realize it was my first goal for TFC, but now that you guys are saying it, it's a good feeling. I had my wife and all her mom's side of the family here, like 20 people, so I'm glad that they were able to see that.

But it's one notch on the belt and I just want to keep getting more. I'm happy that I can contribute in different ways.

Q. One of the things Bob talked about when we spoke with him last week was about the team wanting to see if the team finds that mentality to pick themselves up when things don't go your way. Did we see some inkling of that tonight, the last few minutes aside?

I think so. I think so. I think to go in the half down, understanding that you're going to have to lift the tempo of the game and really go after it, not in the greatest conditions, cold, the field, whatever you want to say, right, I was really proud of how we showed up in the second half. Really changed the game, I believe.

So you go and you score two goals, you go up, the next part of our learning is just continuing to dig deep and not let a team like that back into the game. So it was unfortunate the way it ended but the way the second half started, I'm glad that we were able to push through and really be resilient.

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