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Toronto FC hope high pressure the key to dismantling DC

Milos Kocic

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

TORONTO – D.C. United can expect to see a different team when they face Toronto FC Saturday at RFK Stadium (7:30 pm ET, TSN2/watch LIVE online).

TFC won't be so laid back, so to speak, as they were on May 5 when D.C. United won 2-0 at BMO Field.

"It's the same group of guys but it's just totally different the way we play on the field," goalkeeper Milos Kocic (above) said Friday after training at BMO Field. "The way we pressure the ball and where we're standing on the field and where we push up and everything. It's much different for everybody."

The loss to United sent Toronto to their eighth consecutive loss and the worst start to a season in league history at 0-8-0. Two players will be unable to contribute to the redemption effort, though – midfielder Torsten Frings (shoulder) and defender Miguel Aceval (hamstring) will both be sidelined for the match.

The tactics used during their recent matches have upset some Toronto players. They felt that they were giving the opposition too much respect, hanging back in their own defensive half, instead of applying pressure higher up. They felt it gave the opposing team the advantage.

“[Before] if you lost the ball, it was in our half," Kocic said. "Now when we press them when we step up it's much easier to play because we’re playing in their half, we’re pressing them. Now they have to worry, especially D.C. because they don't have the best defense in the world."

Applying pressure higher is the way Toronto have played the past two games in the Amway Canadian Championship, and came away with something they have yet to find in nine regular-season games so far this campaign – points.

They defeated the Montreal Impact 2-0 at BMO Field on May 9 despite playing most of the game with 10 men. They drew 1-1 on Wednesday with the Whitecaps in the first leg of the ACC final in Vancouver and – had Eric Hassli not unloaded another world-class volley to salvage a tie in the 90th minute – they would have made it two wins in a row.

Kocic believes that defense starts at the top.

"You have to defend from the beginning, from Danny [Koevermans] or Ryan [Johnson], whoever plays up front," Kocic said. "That's where you start defending and that's where you press them and don't let them build up. Against D.C. the way we played last game at home is we let them come all the way to our half of the field and then we started defending. [It] is unacceptable."

Johnson, who had given Toronto the lead over Vancouver on a brilliant header, plans to change that.

"The D.C. game at home is one of those games where we kind of sat back," Johnson said. "I think if we push forward it will cause them to make mistakes. I think that's kind of one of the points we can emphasize."