[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE]
It came out of Mexico with a valuable point yet not until Thursday will D.C. United know whether a 1-1 tie at Toluca is enough
to push it into the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals.
A stunning goal by Chris Pontius
provided United with a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute
and though it pressed for additional goals, instead Toluca equalized with an Israel Lopez
penalty kick in the second half to wrap up first place in the group
with 13 points. United, which rebounded after losing its first two group matches, stands at 10 points and leads third-place Marathon by a point.
D.C. holds the head-to-head tiebreaker
advantage and will advance at the expense of Marathon if the Honduran club doesn't beat pointless San Juan Jabloteh (0-0-5) in Trinidad Thursday.
Pontius scored a spectacular goal, his
second of the competition, from well outside the penalty area to give United hope of an historic victory: no MLS team has won a competitive club match in Mexico.
nodded a long Steve Cronin
goal kick in Pontius' direction, and the rookie out of UC Santa Barbara controlled it with his chest and
teed it up with a touch to belt a searing half-volley out of the air and into the top corner.
Cronin had already rescued United, by slapping away a dipping shot from Nestor Calderon
. An offside decision in the 26th minute that looked dubious annulled a goal that Raul Nava
put the ball in
the net. Before halftime, Cronin also saved a low shot by Issac Brizuela
and D.C. escaped again when Nava's header beat Cronin cleanly but came back off the
Toluca, which needed only a point to advance, finally equalized in the 62nd minute. Lopez, just into the match as a substitute, faked Lawson
, who tripped him with a lurching tackle. Lopez easily smacked home the penalty to tie the game. Dejan Jakovic
and Christian Gomez
came on for United, and Gomez got free for a header that nearly restored the lead but his shot flashed wide. Cronin stopped Nava in the late going
to leave United's fate unresolved yet with a credible result on its ledger -- and some more momentum heading into its MLS regular-season finale Saturday at Kansas City. Oct. 20 in Toluca Toluca 1 D.C. United 1
Goals: Lopez (pen.) 62; Pontius (Emilio, Cronin) 6. Toluca -
Talavera, M. de la Torre, Gamboa (Esquivel, 57), Duenas, Almazan, Romagnoli, Marin (Lopez, 59). D. de la Torre, Calderon, Nava, Brizuela (Mancilla,
68). D.C. United -
Cronin, John, Vaughn, McTavish (Gomez, 68), James, Szetela, DiRaimondo (Jakovic, 63), Fred, Khumalo (Wallace, 46), Pontius,