Toronto FC drop season opener to DC United

Giancarlo Aulino
FiredUp Network Sports Writer


Saturday, February 25, 2023

Toronto FC didn't exactly kick-off the 2023 MLS season on a positive note as they blew a 2-1 lead in stoppage time as D.C. United rallied back to win their season opener 3-2. 


Toronto head coach Bob Bradley went with a 4-3-3 formation that featured many of the club's new additions. Sean Johnson started in-goal; Raoul Petretta, Sigurd Rosted, Matt Hedges, and Richie Laryea on the backline; Jonathan Osorio, Mark-Anthony Kaye, and captain Michael Bradley in the midfield; and Lorenzo Insigne, Adama Diomande, and Federico Bernardeschi as the attacking trio. 

It took D.C only 13 minutes to get on the scoresheet as Mateusz Klich scored the opener. TFC looked shaky at times on the defensive-end, which was apparent in D.C's scoring opportunities. 

Toronto showed improvements early in the second-half and that hard work paid off as Laryea was brought down in the box, which resulted in a penalty being awarded. Bernardeschi struck a nicely placed penalty to even the scoring. 

In the 83rd minute, Kaye took advatage of a rebound off Bernardeschi's free kick and calmly struck the go-ahead goal in the back-of-the-net to give Toronto the 2-1 lead. It was a milestone as the goal was his first as a member of Toronto FC. During his post-match media availability, the Canadian midfielder mentioned what the goal meant to him on a personal level.

Kaye said:

"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." 


It looked as though TFC would be able to hang, however as stoppage approached, Wayne Rooney's side had more urgency in their game. Christian Benteke scored the equalizer in the 90th minute and in the final minute of stoppage time, Theodore Ku-DiPietro scored the game winner to give D.C. the full three points in their home opener. 

Coach Bradley gave his thoughts on what transpired in the final moments of the match and mentioned that it was a disappointing loss, saying:

"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.



Lorenzo Insigne leaves the match due to injury

Not only did TFC blow the lead in stoppage time, but their Designated Player, Insigne was forced to sub off due to an injury. During his post-match press conference, coach Bradley mentioned that he didn't have an update on the severity of the injury, but that it was the lower leg. 

It remains to be seen how long Insigne will be out of the lineup or how sever the injury is. It would be a massive loss if the Italian is sidelined as Toronto had high hopes for their Designated Player in his first full season with the club.