Jordan Hamilton to the rescue as Toronto FC rallies for win over Minnesota

Toronto FC 4 Minnesota United 3

TORONTO — Substitute Jordan Hamilton scored two goals in two minutes to give Toronto FC a 4-3 comeback win over Minnesota United on a wild Friday night.

Hamilton scored in the 77th and 79th minutes, converting a pass from Jonathan Osorio for the first and then heading the ball in past the last defender after Jozy Altidore chipped goalkeeper Vito Mannone.

Minnesota’s Darwin Quintero scored twice, including a 70th-minute penalty, to cancel out a pair of highlight-reel goals by Alejandro Pozuelo. Quintero slotted home his spot kick in the 70th to give Minnesota a 3-2 lead after Chris Mavinga took down Angelo Rodriguez in the box.

Quintero, a Colombian international in his second MLS season, has 16 career goals including five against Toronto. Quintero scored Minnesota’s first-ever hat trick in a 4-3 win over TFC last July.

Quintero had given Minnesota (3-3-1) an early lead in the rain before an announced crowd of 22,651.

Minnesota finished with nine men. Jan Gregus was sent off in the 89th minute for a dangerous scissors tackle on Pozuelo and Francisco Calvo followed in the 91st after for a second yellow in two minutes for kicking out at a TFC player.

It was an entertaining contest between two teams with high-octane offences. Toronto and Minnesota have met just three times, producing 19 goals.

It had looked like a Toronto win, thanks to Pozuelo’s heroics, before Minnesota edged ahead.

The 27-year-old Spaniard scored two spectacular goals in his Toronto debut — his first brace as a professional — on March 29 against New York City FC and he delivered two more gems Friday. The goals came a club-record 110 seconds apart (Altidore scored goals 113 seconds apart in a 5-0 win over Orlando in August 2015).

Pozuelo, who now has four goals and five assists in four MLS games with Toronto (4-1-1), had given Toronto a 2-1 lead.

But Rodriguez tied it at 2-2 in the 57th minute, heading in a cross from Romain Metanire. Defender Laurent Ciman thought Rodriguez had fouled him but referee Ismail Elfath disagreed.

Trailing 1-0 midway through the first half, Pozuelo took matters into his own hands. After a Minnesota attack fizzled, a Mavinga clearance found the Spaniard steaming towards the Minnesota end with Altidore in a two-on-two. Pozuelo twisted and turned retreating defender Michael Boxall before hammering a right-footed shot from just outside the penalty box past a diving Mannone.

Two minutes later, Justin Morrow found him between defenders in the box and he beat Mannone again, this time roofing it with his left foot.

The Good Friday contest was the first on the new hybrid grass at BMO Field. Polyethylene fibres, measuring 20 centimetres long, were stitched 18 centimetres deep into the ground every 20 millimetres, allowing the roots of the natural grass to attach to the fibres for a stronger, former surface. Green Bay’s Lambeau Field has the same surface.

After an even beginning, Quintero put the visitors ahead in the 17th minute when Toronto was unable to handle a long ball in by Gregus. Quintero had called for the ball and held off fullback Richie Laryea to get it.

Goalkeeper Alex Bono was of two minds how to handle the situation and when he got to the ball at the edge of the penalty box, Quintero headed it over him and then tapped it in before showing off some questionable dance moves.

It was the first shot on target for either team and upped Quintero’s total to four this season.

Michael Bradley came close with a header off a Pozuelo corner in the 26th minute.

Pozuelo’s goals woke Toronto up and the home side began to batter Minnesota. The Spaniard had a chance at the hat trick in the 37th but Mannone made a terrific save on his howitzer of a shot. Mannone was called into action a minute later, stopping a Nick DeLeon blast.

Altidore almost beat Mannone, a former teammate at England’s Sunderland, late in the half but his deflection went high.

Altidore left the game late with hamstring tightness.

Pozuelo showed his all-round game at the end of the half, helping clean up a Minnesota attack by clearing the ball in his own penalty box after his turnover.

Bono made a good say in the 54th to stop a Gregus free kick from just outside the box.

Like other MLS teams this weekend, Toronto and Minnesota wore special eco-friendly jerseys made from fibres of plastic waste — in honour of Earth Day on Monday. Toronto’s were a dark navy blue while Minnesota wore baby blue.

Bono and Laryea slotted into the Toronto lineup for Quentin Westberg and Eriq Zavaleta as Greg Vanney returned to a four-man backline. Veteran defender Drew Moor (adductor) was out but Brazilian Auro made the bench after being sidelined with a hamstring injury.

On a big Toronto sports night, TFC was the lone team playing at home with the Leafs in Boston, Raptors in Orlando and Marlies in Rochester, all involved in playoff action, while the Blue Jays were in Oakland. The Toronto Arrows, Canada’s first pro rugby union team, host the Houston SaberCats on Sunday.

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