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United self-destructs in loss to Toronto

Toronto FC midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo (10) shoots the ball past Minnesota United defender Michael Boxall (15) to score his first goal of the first half Friday, April 19, at BMO Field in Toronto. Dan Hamilton / USA TODAY Sports1 / 2
Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono (25) punches clear a corner kick against Minnesota United in the first half Friday, April 19, at BMO Field in Toronto. Dan Hamilton / USA TODAY Sports2 / 2

TORONTO -- Minnesota United’s defense has let them down -- again. And again. And again.

After taking a 3-2 lead in the 70th minute, the Loons defense -- which had been anemic in 2017, 2018, earlier in 2019 and in Friday’s first half -- collapsed down the stretch in a 4-3 loss to Toronto at a rainy and chilly BMO Field.

The Loons then imploded with a red card to Jan Gregus and a second yellow to captain Francisco Calvo to go down to nine men in the final minutes. They will now miss Wednesday’s home game against the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Minnesota (3-3-1) gave up an MLS two-year record amount of goals. They haven’t stoped there and on a pace to set a new low that. They gave up 2.05 in 2017, 2.08 in 2018 and now 2.14 in 2019.

Toronto (3-1-1) received two late goals from Jordan Hamilton in the 77th and 79th minutes to steal victory.

Loons’ Darwin Quintero buried an penalty kick in the 70th minute after Angelo Rodriguez was tripped by Chris Mavinga just inside the 18th-yard box. It gave Minnesota a 3-2 lead with 20 minutes left.

Trailing 2-1 at halftime, Loons right back Romain Metanire sent in a cross to striker Angelo Rodriguez, who finished for an equalizing goal in the 59th minute. It was similar to Metanire’s pass to Rodriguez, which ended up with Ozzie Alonso scoring the first goal in Allianz Field history last Saturday.

Loons coach Adrian Heath spiked a red water bottle after Toronto’s new central attacking midfielder Alejandro Pozelo, a top player on the scouting report, scored a brace in the first half hour.

Pozuelo -- the Reds’ new Designated Player that drew a $10 million transfer -- found acres of space in the midfield, spun Loons’ defender Michael Boxall around and, unleashed a 24-yard strike to tie the game in the 28th minute.

Less than two minutes later, Pozuelo took advantage of a few feet of space in front of Brent Kallman and roofed a second goal over Vito Mannone. Mannone then made two big saves to keep the scoreline at 2-1 at halftime.

This nullified Darwin Quintero’s opening goal. Quintero, who has three goals on penalty kicks this season, snapped a 452 minute span without a goal in open play this year. With a sublime, arching pass from Jan Gregus, Quintero headed it over Toronto goalkeeper Alex Bono off his line, and then had an easy tap for a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute.

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