Toronto FC turned one of the team's most horrific first halves into one of its best comebacks.
But captain Michael Bradley certainly wasn't celebrating after a crazy night at BMO Field.
Nick Hagglund, with a pair, Jonathan Osorio, and Victor Vazquez all scored second-half goals to erase a 3-0 deficit in a roller-coaster 4-4 draw against D.C. United on Wednesday.
"In the first half we were so poor," said a smoldering Bradley. "The second half is a decent response, but these are games we should win."
Yamil Asad scored twice, while Paul Arriola and Darren Mattocks had one apiece for United (2-6-4), who are last in the Eastern Conference.
For 45 minutes, Toronto FC (4-7-3), which had lost just one of its previous four matches, looked nothing like an MLS Cup champion in front of a disgruntled crowd of 23,011 fans, disorganized on defence and out of synch on offence.
"I'm not sure there's one (emotion), there's a thousand," Bradley said. "We have to recharge mentally, physically (during the World Cup break) and look at ourselves in a real, honest way and make sure that in the second half of the season we rediscover a little bit of life and energy and enthusiasm.
"It's been a long season so far, we've played a lot of games, we've travelled a lot. . . It doesn't seem like June. So many makeshift lineups, so many days when you're just trying to scrounge anything together to come away with points, that wears on you in a big way."
Asad started United's scoring onslaught in the 12th minute, finishing a string of a dozen D.C. United tic-tac-toe passes that sliced through Toronto's jumbled defence.
Arriola doubled the visitors' lead five minutes later on a counterattack. Toronto FC was pleading for a penalty after Osorio went down in the box. United, meanwhile, was racing the other way. Arriola headed in a cross from Zoltan Stieber, and then put a finger to his lips to shush the BMO Field crowd — an unnecessary gesture, as the crowd was already sitting in stunned silence.
Mattocks scored in the 45th minute on a horrible defensive breakdown by Toronto. Eriq Zavaleta was about to clear the ball when he had it stolen from behind, and Mattocks beat a Bradley tackle attempt to score from close in.
Playing their first game on the pristine new grass at BMO Field, the Reds walked off the pitch at halftime to a chorus of boos.
"We've got a lot of things to be worrying about right now and that doesn't come in real high on the list," Bradley said. "We need our fan support in a big, big way, even moreso right now when things are difficult."
Toronto coach Greg Vanney said he kept his cool during halftime.
"For me today wasn't a day where I felt like they needed a bollocking or yelling at," he said. "I felt like they needed a clear plan, a little push to believe they could this. We needed to be confident, we needed to be aggressive, we needed to play without fear, play without concern of losing a pass, but to play aggressive, to play forward, to go for it."
His team responded. Osorio got Toronto on the scoreboard finally in the 54th minute when he connected on a cross from Ryan Telfer just inside the 18-yard box.
Vazquez injected more hope in the 64th minute, when Sebastian Giovinco's shot banged off the crossbar and fell virtually at his feet. Vasquez one-timed it for an easy goal.
Then Hagglund tied it up in the 86th minute, racing up from the back line to connect on a cross from Justin Morrow.
Asad scored what looked to be the dagger in the 90th minute, when Patrick Mullins found him unmarked in front of the net. But on a night that was a scorekeeper's worst nightmare, Hagglund tied it again seconds later when he connected on a cross from Osorio.
"Five minutes left in the game Greg says 'Abandon centre back, head forward,' so just got in the box and waited for some great balls," Hagglund said.
Toronto had a couple of great couple of chances in the game's early minutes. Vazquez just missed on a shot from close in, then a minute later a United defender knocked the ball onto the foot of an onrushing Nicolas Hasler, who recently returned from injury. United's 'keeper David Ousted stretched and just got his fingertips on the ball to push it out of harm's way.
Vanney partly blamed the weather for Toronto's disastrous first half, saying "we didn't really set up the team to play against a pretty strong wind."
United, meanwhile, has now played 10 of their last 12 games on the road with their new stadium, Audi Field, set to open July 14.
Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press