Yow, a second-year pro from Clifton, Va., had entered at the start of the second half for the injured Mohammed Abu. In his seventh regular season appearance, he calmly smashed a 12-yard shot into the near side.
“As soon as I saw the ball approach, I knew I would have to hit it and want for it to be a shot on target,” Yow said. “It hit off my foot really well and got great contact on it. That was an amazing feeling, honestly.”
In a spectator-free stadium, Yow’s howls of happiness were clearly audible. Paul Arriola, United’s injured star watching on the second level, hustled to the corner where teammates mobbed Yow.
“I think he actually got to the corner of the stands before I even got there,” Yow said of Arriola. “And that was with a torn ACL. To see him match my energy and see him super excited as well, it was a great moment.”
The goal came about after Joseph Mora served a cross deep into the penalty area. Toronto’s efforts to clear failed, and the ball floated into the path of the teenage attacker.
“Last year he was fairly stagnant as a player,” Coach Ben Olsen said. “This year he has really committed himself to being a pro. He’s got really interesting qualities, but one of his best qualities is he just seems to be one of those players who gets real chances and smells chances.”
Last year, Yow scored in a friendly against Spain’s Real Betis and in the second division with Loudoun United.
“He came in and [brought] good energy, good spirit,” defender Frédéric Brillant said. “With the young legs, [the young players] are ready to run, especially late in the game when the other team is tired. This kind of player brings something special to the team.”
United almost won it in the final seconds, but Toronto’s Quentin Westberg made a terrific slap save on Erik Sorga’s bid at the near post.
Yow’s stunning equalizer capped an up-and-down night for United (2-5-5, 11 points). Ola Kamara scored early for United’s first first-half goal in almost a year, but Alejandro Pozuelo and substitute Ayo Akinola took advantage of D.C.’s continuing defensive breakdowns.
Injuries continue to haunt United. Midfielder Ulises Segura (calf) this past week joined the list, raising the total to six regulars. Abu’s knee injury just before halftime made it seven. Olsen guessed Abu injured the medial collateral ligament; a diagnosis is expected in the coming days.
These teams played to a 2-2 draw at the MLS is Back Tournament in July at Disney World, where United scored two late goals to salvage a point. On this night, United accomplished something that had eluded it since Sept. 22, 2019, against Seattle: It scored before halftime.
In the fifth minute, Kamara pressured Omar Gonzalez in the center circle, forcing a giveaway to launch himself on a breakaway and notch his second goal of the season.
Toronto drew even in the 17th minute. United’s Donovan Pines attempted an acrobatic clearance at the top of the six-yard box. He knocked down Richie Laryea’s cross but did not clear it, leaving the ball for Pozuelo to snap past keeper Bill Hamid.
“We’ve got to do better there,” Olsen said. “Donovan is growing as a player, but he still has some moments where you see some youth. That’s part of his development.”
Just before halftime, Abu injured his left knee disrupting Pablo Piatti’s shot at the top of the penalty area.
Toronto went ahead in the 60th minute. Laryea crossed to the back side. After one hop, Piatti lifted the ball to Akinola, a halftime substitute, who found a pocket of space between Brillant and Pines for a six-yard header beyond Hamid’s reach.
Akinola, 20, has six goals this year, with three against United.
Olsen inserted substitutes young (Kevin Paredes, 17; Moses Nyeman, 16; and Sorga, 21) and old (Federico Higuaín, 35), but the score line did not budge until Yow’s stunner.
“It wasn’t an easy night, things didn’t go our way, but we hung in there,” Olsen said. “Overall, we’ll take the point.”
Notes: D.C.’s Júnior Moreno was named to the Venezuelan national team for the start of the 2022 World Cup qualifying competition in South America, set for Oct. 9 at Colombia and Oct. 13 vs. Paraguay. MLS has yet to announce its October schedule. Moreno is tentatively scheduled to leave Oct. 5 and return Oct. 14 to 15. …
United will visit Nashville (3-5-3, 12 points) on Wednesday. …
The U.S. flag behind the south goal was at half-staff in honor of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday. At halftime, her portrait appeared on the video board.
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