Preview: Toronto travel to DC for league rematch
D.C. UNITED vs TORONTO FC
RFK MEMORIAL STADIUM, Washington, D.C.
May 19, 2012 (WEEK 11, MLS Game #102)
7:30 p.m. ET (CSN-MA; TSN2)
D.C. United play the second game of their homestand when they meet Toronto FC for the second time in three weeks, Saturday night at RFK Stadium. United came off a three-game road swing at midweek with a comprehensive 2-0 victory against the Colorado Rapids. TFC return to league action for the first time since the 2-0 loss to United at BMO Field on May 5, though they've since reached the final of the Canadian Championship, playing to a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Vancouver at midweek.
REFEREE: Geoff Gamble. SAR (bench): James Conlee; JAR (opposite): Eric Proctor; 4th: John McCloskey
MLS Career: 11 games; FC/gm: 22.9; Y/gm: 3.1; R: 2; pens: 9
- D.C. UNITED - OUT: MF Lance Rozeboom (L knee ACL tear); DF Emiliano Dudar (L hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Chris Pontius (gluteus minimus strain); DF Perry Kitchen (R knee pain); FW Maicon Santos (L calf strain); MF Marcelo Saragosa (R soleus strain); MF Nick DeLeon (L hamstring strain); PROBABLE: DF Dejan Jakovic (L ankle sprain); DF Ethan White (R knee surgery)
- TORONTO FC - OUT: FW Nicholas Lindsay (L knee surgery recovery); GK Stefan Frei (L lower leg); DOUBTFUL: DF Miguel Aceval (L quadriceps strain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Dicoy Williams (R knee surgery recovery); FW Danny Koevermans (R adductor strain); DF Torsten Frings (shoulder sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
- SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none
- SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: DC: Maicon Santos, Chris Pontius ... TOR: Julian de Guzman
ALL-TIME (13 meetings): United 8 wins, 28 goals ... Toronto FC 3 wins, 17 goals ... Ties 2
AT RFK STADIUM (6 meetings): United 3 wins, 19 goals ... Toronto FC 1 win, 13 goals ... Ties 2
FUTURE MATCH: 10/6: Toronto FC vs. D.C. United, 1 p.m. ET (TSN/RDS)
- The teams are meeting for the second time this season. On May 5, Chris Pontius and Hamdi Salihi scored second-half goals to give United a 2-0 win at BMO Field.
- Toronto FC have not played a league match since the loss to D.C. United will have played twice since the trip to TFC.
- D.C. United have won on their last three trips to BMO Field. In seven trips all-time to Toronto, United have come away with victories in five.
- Toronto FC have come away with points on their last three trips to RFK Stadium. They've played to 3-3 draws in two of those, wrapped around a 3-2 win in 2010.
- Coaches record: Ben Olsen vs. TOR: P5 W3 L1 D1 ... Aron Winter vs. DC: P3 W0 L2 D1
LAST MEETING (MLS):
5/5: TOR 0, DC 2 (Pontius 55; Salihi 75)
- Seconds after a handball on the line appeared to have kept out a United goal, the visitors struck. Chris Pontius took a pass outside the area and lashed a left-footed rocket into the top left corner for the 55th-minute opener.
- United's Hamdi Salihi, who came on as a substitute in the 71st minute, put the game away in the 75th in the wake of a corner kick. After the initial set piece was cleared, Brandon McDonald headed the ball back into the area, and Salihi fired it home expertly from a half-turn.
- TORONTO FC (4-3-3): Milos Kocic - Richard Eckersley, Doneil Henry, Miguel Aceval, Ashtone Morgan - Julian de Guzman, Torsten Frings (Jeremy Hall 67), Luis Silva (Joao Plata 46) - Reggie Lambe, Ryan Johnson, Eric Avila.
- D.C. UNITED (4-3-1-2): Bill Hamid - Andy Najar, Daniel Woolard, Brandon McDonald, Chris Korb - Danny Cruz, Perry Kitchen, Lewis Neal (Branko Boskovic 46) - Dwayne De Rosario - Maicon Santos (Hamdi Salihi 71), Chris Pontius (Stephen King 65).
D.C. United kicked off their homestand with a victory, a comprehensive 2-0 win against the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday evening at RFK Stadium. United are tied for second place in the Eastern Conference with 21 points from 13 games.
HIGHLIGHTS: Rapids fall in the Capital
- United took the lead in the 25th minute. Lewis Neal picked up a loose ball in midfield with space to roam, and made his way towards goal before picking out Dwayne De Rosario's run from the right. The Canadian international slipped a shot past Matt Pickens from inside the area.
- The home side finished off the match on the hour. Neal picked up a loose clearance and sent a cross in for Branko Boskovic, and the resulting header was saved by Pickens. But Hamdi Salihi was right there to knock in the rebound from close range.
- United head coach Ben Olsen made three changes to the team that fell 1-0 to the Houston Dynamo in the opening of BBVA Compass Stadium. Lewis Neal, Branko Boskovic and Hamdi Salihi came into the team, for Danny Cruz, Maicon Santos and Chris Pontius.
- D.C. UNITED (4-3-1-2): Bill Hamid - Robbie Russell (Danny Cruz 59), Daniel Woolard, Brandon McDonald, Chris Korb - Andy Najar, Perry Kitchen, Lewis Neal - Branko Boskovic (Stephen King 73) - Dwayne De Rosario (Josh Wolff 81), Hamdi Salihi.
My Favorite Player Is... El Diablo
- Facing a quick turnaround after the match in Houston over the weekend, United boss Ben Olsen made three key changes in his front group.
- "It's never easy to go away from your quote-unquote starting 11 as a coach," Olsen said. "We've built depth and we've talked about it and we have to trust in it. Today they did a very good job to the man out there. I thought it was a very complete performance; everybody did a good job tonight."
- For the first time since the season opener, Dwayne De Rosario and Hamdi Salihi formed the strike partnership from the outset. In the other two matches where De Rosario had lined up as an out-and-out striker, Salihi did not start.
- "It's a nice option. It was pretty good, overall. I thought some of the guys that haven't had 90 minutes tend to get a little tired, and I think Dwayne's had a lot of games where we've pushed him," Olsen said. "It was good to move him up, maybe give him a little less of a workout today. It looked good - it's definitely a good option to have."
- Salihi continued his goalscoring form, hitting the back of the net for the third time in the last four games. He was making his first start since April 14.
- "When you score is always good, it gives you confidence," Salihi said. "I've said this before, I've always believed in myself and in my quality. I work the same way every day, it doesn't matter if I score in one game or if I don't, I work the same way."
- Branko Boskovic was given his first start since April 18, pulling the strings in United's midfield. "DeRo and Branko are great players and it's not difficult to play with them because they can find you everywhere," Salihi said. "It's always good to play with players like this. I'm especially happy for Branko because he is coming back and he played a great game. He deserves this because he is working hard everyday and he is a good player."
- Lewis Neal started for the second time in the last three games and recorded his first MLS assist.
- "When you play a diamond, it's important to exploit the width and get the ball from one side to the other as quick as possible. I thought we did that," Olsen said. "Lewis was dangerous. [He's] a guy who can not only pass centrally, as you saw on the goal, but he's a threat on his left foot whipping balls in. We wanted, with Hamdi in there, to be in there to get a lot of crosses in. I thought we did that, and that opened some stuff underneath."
- Already missing Emiliano Dudar and Dejan Jakovic to injury, there was another loss in the back four when Robbie Russell was forced off just before the hour mark.
- "[Daniel] Woolard really seems to be liking center back, so now I've got to deal with that. It's a nice problem to have because he's been really good in there, and [Brandon McDonald's] been a rock as of late. He's physically been an ironman through this," Olsen said. "We have another game very quickly, a quick turnaround, against a team that's still struggling. They're going to be hungry, they're dying for a win, so we've got to make sure to put this behind us and make sure we do our part against Toronto."
- There was almost a shock, though, when Perry Kitchen was found not to have suffered a serious knee injury vs, Houston - and played the entire match vs. Colorado in central midfield.
- "It looked bad, and it felt bad, and when the doc told me, I was like, 'Are you kidding me? You read the right MRI?' Still a little bit of pain, but nothing serious," said Kitchen. Said Olsen: "It was great news, it was absolutely a relief. He was upset at himself because he came out of the game and that he had nothing injured. He apologized profusely, [but] we all saw the film - it looked pretty scary."
Toronto FC return to action after a week off from league play, their last match the 2-0 home loss to D.C. United on May 5, an MLS-record eighth consecutive loss to start a season. TFC is in 10th place in the Eastern Conference.
HIGHLIGHTS: DC extends the hurt in Toronto
Ryan Johnson talks ACC, DC United
- Toronto FC's eight-game losing streak is tied for sixth-longest in the MLS annals. The MLS record for a losing streak is 12 in a row, set in 1999 by the MetroStars. The first nine of those losses were in regulation time. The MLS record for consecutive losses in regulation time is 10, set in 2005 by Real Salt Lake.
- "We are walking on egg shells and once it cracks everything falls apart and I don't think that should be happening. Especially at home where you have your fans behind you. With the type of fans that we do have we should have some type of motivation going forward," said Julian de Guzman.
- Four days after the league loss to United, TFC did qualify for the Canadian Championship final with a 2-0 win against the Montreal Impact at BMO Field, winning the semifinal series 2-0 on aggregate. Reggie Lambe (2) and Ryan Johnson (38) scored first-half goals to send the Reds through.
- Here's the TFC team: Milos Kocic; Richard Eckersley (sent off 16), Doneil Henry, Adrian Cann, Ashtone Morgan; Julian de Guzman, Torsten Frings, Eric Avila (Terry Dunfield 57); Reggie Lambe (Nick Soolsma 73), Ryan Johnson, Joao Plata (Jeremy Hall 67)
- But the Reds suffered another blow when Torsten Frings was injured in the Montreal match, ruling him out for the first leg of the Canadian Championship final.
- Defender Jeremy Hall was able to make his TFC debut in the league match vs. United, coming on for the final quarter of the contest. Hall suffered a sports hernia injury during preseason.
- "It's always tough to come in in the second half and the try to find the pace," Hall said. "It was a little fast. I was a little winded. It was my first minutes just coming back from injury. I still have a ways to go for me personally to get to 100 percent, but I think it's a step in the right direction."
- Danny Koevermans was ready to return for the first leg of the Canadian Championship, sidelined since mid-April with a groin injury. He has not played since April 14, a week after scoring his only goal of the year in the league game vs. Montreal.
- "I've been close in the first five games," Koevermans said. "It could easily have been four or five goals. But you can't say every time unlucky, so we'll just have to work hard as a team and me as a player to get those goals in and get some points."
- While TFC is still looking for a first win in league play this season (0-8-0), they are undefeated (2-0-3) against MLS clubs in the CONCACAF Champions League and Canadian Championship.
- "Of course not," Koevermans said. "I don't look at the standings anymore but when you do you still see zero points. And it was fine to finally get a victory and to make it to the final and we're going to try to win this one, too, to try to get into the Champions League. But I would like to get some points in the league, too. We still feel pressure, of course."
- On Wednesday, a late Eric Hassli volley gave Vancouver Whitecaps FC the equalizer for a 1-1 draw with Toronto FC in the first leg of their Canadian Championship final. Ryan Johnson gave TFC the lead on 66 minutes, heading home a pinpoint cross from Julian de Guzman.
- Here's the Toronto FC team: Milos Kocic; Jeremy Hall, Adrian Cann, Doneil Henry, Ashtone Morgan; Terry Dunfield, Julian de Guzman, Eric Avila (Danny Koevermans 65); Reggie Lambe (Nick Soolsma 71), Ryan Johnson, Joao Plata (Luis Silva 80)
- "The whole league so far has been a killer in the morale, so this is nothing new," said Ryan Johnson. "As long as we didn't lose the game, and it's the second leg that's the most important thing. We've just got to look at the positive things that we did and keep building on that because if we keep focusing on the negative we'll never get out of this funk."