Late Penalty Gives Toronto FC the Development Academy U-15 Boys Championship

A 78th minute penalty kick from Jahkeele Marshall-Ruddy completed an improbable comeback to give Toronto FC a 3-2 victory over LAFC on Tuesday in the 2019 U.S. Soccer Development Academy U-15 Boys Championship. Toronto FC trailed 2-0 at halftime but three goals in 16 minutes, two from Hugo Mbongue and the winner from Marshall-Ruddy, after the intermission gave the Canadian side the inaugural U-15 crown.

After a pair of first half goals gave LAFC the lead at the break, Mbongue brought Toronto FC back into the match in the 62nd minute, heading home a goal to cut the LAFC lead in half.

Neither team had generated much in the way of a clear-cut scoring opportunity in the first 20 minutes of the second half but when Joshua Gordon's cross found the head of Mbongue, who powered a header past LAFC goalkeeper Donovan Palomares, the Canadian side had a lifeline.

Six minutes later, LAFC nearly had a third as a great through ball from Robert Willcot found Kevin Jimenez near the top of the box but Toronto FC goalkeeper Dino Bontis did a good job to come out and pressure Jimenez into sending his shot just wide.

The missed opportunity from LAFC kept Toronto FC alive and Mbongue's second header of the game pulled the Mid-America Division Champions even at 2-2 in the 74th minute. Marshall-Ruddy whipped in a deep cross from near the right sideline and Mbongue was once again able to rise highest, heading the ball back across goal and into the side-netting to tie the game.

Toronto FC completed the comeback just four minutes later as Marshall-Ruddy converted from the penalty spot. After earning the penalty himself, Marshall-Ruddy stepped up to take it but saw his initial attempt saved by Palomares, only for it to be called back and retaken due to encroachment. At the second attempt, Marshall-Ruddy calmly slotted the ball into the net for what would prove to be the winning goal.

In stoppage time at the end of the 80 minutes, LAFC threw everything forward and had a couple of headers into dangerous areas, but the Toronto FC defense was able to clear away both opportunities as they preserved the 3-2, comeback victory to claim the championship.

LAFC built its 2-0 halftime lead as Dylan Presto struck first, finding the back of the net just before the midway point of the opening half. On the game's first corner, LAFC took it short and Jimenez worked his way to the edge of the box before clipping a ball to the back post where Antonio Leone got above the crowd and nodded it down to Presto who redirected the ball home from inside the six-yard box to give the Southwest Division champions a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute.

Just before the half-hour mark, Toronto FC had a look at goal off a free kick from the left side just outside the box. Marshall-Ruddy fired a low ball into the box that took a deflection and saw a rebound blocked and cleared away by the LAFC defense.

The Southern California side doubled its lead in the 35th minute as Presto scored his second goal of the game. Jimenez played the ball from inside the box on the left side toward Luis Lima whose shot came back off the post and it was Presto who reacted quickest to fire home from close range, putting LAFC in front, 2-0, an advantage it would take into halftime.

With less than 20 minutes to play in the second half, LAFC maintained its two-goal lead before Mbongue's first goal of the game, sparked the unlikely Toronto FC comeback.

Watch the full match here: https://ussoc.cr/zrby