Preview: D.C. United jet to Toronto with unbeaten run at stake

Toronto FC vs. D.C. United, October 6, 2012

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TORONTO FC vs D.C. UNITED
BMO FIELD, Toronto, Ont.
October 6, 2012 (WEEK 31, MLS Game #295)
1 p.m. ET (TSN/RDS; CSN-MA)

D.C. United conclude their two-game road trip knowing that every point is crucial when they visit Toronto FC on Saturday afternoon at BMO Field. United are now unbeaten in four games, after starting their trip with a 1-1 draw at Portland, that leaves them in the top five in the Eastern Conference and still holding a playoff spot. TFC return home after their winless streak was extended to 11 games last weekend in a 4-1 loss at New York.

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REFEREE: Armando Villarreal. AR1 (bench): Claudio Badea; AR2 (opposite): Scott Kachmarik; 4th: Abbey Okulaja

MLS Career: 8 games; FC/gm: 22.9; Y/gm: 2.8; R: 5; pens: 3

INJURY REPORT:

  • TORONTO FC – OUT: GK Stefan Frei (L lower leg); FW Danny Koevermans (L knee ACL tear); DF Ty Harden (lower abdominal strain); MF Torsten Frings (L hip); MF Matt Stinson (R quadriceps strain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Eric Hassli (R ankle sprain)
  • D.C. UNITED – OUT: MF Lance Rozeboom (L knee ACL tear); DF Daniel Woolard (concussion-like symptoms); MF Stephen King (inguinal hernia repair); FW Josh Wolff (lower back disc herniation); MF Dwayne De Rosario (L knee MCL sprain); DF Emiliano Dudar (R knee bone bruise); MF Raphael Augusto (L quadriceps strain); FW Long Tan (L ankle sprain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED: none

WARNINGS:

SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: TOR: Eric Hassli, Torsten Frings, Ryan Johnson … DC: Dwayne De Rosario, Andy Najar, Maicon Santos
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: TOR: Richard Eckersley, Doneil Henry, Reggie Lambe, Ashtone Morgan … DC: Emiliano Dudar, Chris Pontius, Dejan Jakovic, Bill Hamid, Chris Korb, Lionard Pajoy, Marcelo Saragosa

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (14 meetings): Toronto FC 3 wins, 18 goals … United 9 wins, 31 goals … Ties 2

  • AT TORONTO (7 meetings): Toronto FC 2 wins, 4 goals … United 5 wins, 9 goals … Ties 0
  • 2012 (MLS): 5/5: TOR 0, DC 2 (Pontius 55; Salihi 75), 5/19: DC 3, TOR 1 (De Rosario 1, 43; Salihi 73 – Koevermans 71)
  • It’s the third meeting of the year for the teams, after D.C. United won twice in the space of three weekends. Chris Pontius and Hamdi Salihi scored in a 2-0 win May 5 at BMO Field, then Dwayne De Rosario hit for a double and Salihi netted again in a 3-1 triumph May 19 at RFK Stadium.
  • United have won on their last three visits to BMO Field. In seven games all-time in Toronto, D.C. has won five.
  • The United win in the last meeting between the teams snapped a three-game TFC unbeaten streak at RFK.
  • Coaches record: Ben Olsen vs. TOR: P6 W4 L1 D1 … Paul Mariner vs. DC: first game

LAST MEETING

WATCH: United defeat TFC at RFK

  • United’s opening goal came just 55 seconds into the match, the third quickest goal in team history. Toronto conceded a free kick on the left hand flank, and Branko Boskovic whipped in a curling ball which was headed home by Dwayne De Rosario from 8 yards out.
  • D.C. hit for the second on the stroke of halftime. United quickly changed the point of attack through Josh Wolff, who found a streaking Chris Korb down the right flank. The right back’s cross landed for De Rosario at the far post, and he tucked it home off the gloves of TFC goalkeeper Milos Kocic.
  • Toronto FC pulled a goal back in the 71st minute as halftime substitute Danny Koevermans tallied his second goal of the season. A Toronto free kick was sent long into the box and Koevermans raced onto it to tap home from close range.
  • Yet United restored their lead two minutes later. Taking control of the ball in the Toronto box, Andy Najar weaved past several defenders, got to the touch line, and then sent a pass towards the middle that Hamdi Salihi placed into the back of the net.
  • D.C. UNITED (4-3-1-2): Bill Hamid - Andy Najar (Stephen King 83), Daniel Woolard, Brandon McDonald, Chris Korb - Danny Cruz (Dejan Jakovic 26), Perry Kitchen, Branko Boskovic (Marcelo Saragosa 75) - Dwayne De Rosario - Hamdi Salihi, Josh Wolff.
  • TORONTO FC (4-3-3): Milos Kocic - Jeremy Hall, Doneil Henry, Adrian Cann, Ashtone Morgan - Terry Dunfield (Danny Koevermans 46), Julian de Guzman, Eric Avila - Reggie Lambe, Ryan Johnson, Joao Plata (Nick Soolsma 68).

TORONTO FC

Toronto FC had their league winless streak extended to 11 games, suffering a second consecutive defeat in a 4-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls on Saturday evening at Red Bull Arena. TFC is in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, with 22 points from 31 games.

WATCH: Toronto fall 4-1 to RBNY

LAST MATCH

  • Toronto FC got off to a dream start, scoring in the sixth minute. From all of 30 yards out, Ryan Johnson blasted a shot past debutant goalkeeper Luis Robles and into the top corner inside the far post.
  • But the Red Bulls answered back seven minutes later, when Markus Holgersson headed home an Thierry Henry corner from the edge of the goal area. The home side then took the lead in the 27th minute when Lloyd Sam and Thierry Henry played a quality one-two that started with Henry nodding down a header, finishing when Henry slipped to Kenny Cooper for an easy finish in front of an open goal.
  • The Red Bulls doubled their lead in the 88th minute when Henry collected a pass from Jan Gunnar Solli, dribbled away from a defender and played a low ball across the six-yard box that Cooper smashed home.
  • Cooper then returned the favor to Henry in stoppage time to cap the scoring, hitting a through ball that Henry floated over TFC goalkeeper Freddy Hall from 25 yards out with an audacious chip.
  • TFC head coach Paul Mariner made two changes to the team that fell to a 4-2 loss to the LA Galaxy at The Home Depot Center. Reggie Lambe and Quincy Amarikwa came into the side in place of Logan Emory and Andrew Wiedeman.
  • TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Freddy Hall - Jeremy Hall, Darren O'Dea, Richard Eckersley, Ashtone Morgan - Reggie Lambe (Eric Avila 83), Aaron Maund, Terry Dunfield, Quincy Amarikwa - Luis Silva (Andrew Wiedeman 46), Ryan Johnson.

TEAM NEWS

  • The Toronto FC 11-game winless streak is the longest in MLS this season, and the third-longest in club history. TFC had a 13-game winless run end earlier this season, carrying over from the conclusion of 2011.
  • “We did fairly well when we had our players. Obviously the turning point was losing (Danny) Koevermans. You lose Koevermans and then we replace him with (Eric) Hassli – he was getting his goals and assists, but he’s been hurt, let’s say it that way. I won’t say much more than that, but he’s been on the sidelines,” said TFC head coach Paul Mariner. “So when you lose your starting goalkeeper, your starting strikers, it’s very difficult.”
  • TFC conceded a season-high four goals for a second successive game, after falling 4-2 at the LA Galaxy the week before.
  • “It’s been the worst season imaginable, to be honest,” defender Richard Eckersley said. “We’re simply not good enough for the minute and we want the season to end so we can regroup and start again next year, really.”
  • During the 11-game winless run, Toronto FC have not lost more than two games in a row, going 0-8-3 in the stretch. They did open the campaign with defeats in nine consecutive games.
  • “We just have to do a better job of keeping (the ball) and we can always work harder for each other, it gets harder and harder when you’re losing and guys are getting frustrated with each other,” said defender Jeremy Hall. “We are just going to have to stick with each other, we have I think four more games left, three in the league and one CONCACAF, so hopefully we can play spoilers in the league and go down to Santos (Mexico) and you never know. Soccer is – anybody can fall on any given day, hopefully we can stick together and grind these few games out and get some better results.”
  • Ryan Johnson scored his seventh goal of the season, his second-most in an MLS season since scoring 11 goals for the San Jose Earthquakes in 2009.
  • Making his fourth appearance (and third start) after a four-game absence, Reggie Lambe collected his second assist in that time.
  • “It’s probably the most frustrating thing is the talent is there, the ability,” defender Darren O’Dea said. “It’s all there. It’s just becoming a team that can win games even you’re not playing too well. It doesn’t help when you’ve got your three DPs sitting injured. It doesn’t help, we’ve had injuries and things but it happens in football. I think next season we’ll be in a lot stronger position.”

 

D.C. UNITED

D.C. United saw their winning streak ended but still came away with a vital road point, reaching a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers on Saturday evening at Jeld-Wen Field. United are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 51 points from 31 games.

WATCH: United draw 1-1 in Portland

LAST MATCH

  • United took the lead on the hour mark, when from a corner, Perry Kitchen sent a cross into the box that Portland defender David Horst attempted to clear in the air. Assistant referee Craig Lowry raised his flag to indicate a handball, and Chris Pontius eventually converted from the penalty spot.
  • But the Timbers countered with 11 minutes remaining. A through ball was played to Steven Smith on the left flank, and while his cross was initially broken up, the ball fell to Bright Dike on the left of the goal and he drove his shot past United goalkeeper Bill Hamid into the roof of the goal.
  • United head coach Ben Olsen made one change to the team that got the game’s only goal in a defeat of Chivas USA at RFK Stadium. Lewis Neal came into the side in place of Maicon Santos.
  • D.C. UNITED (4-2-3-1): Bill Hamid - Andy Najar, Brandon McDonald, Dejan Jakovic, Chris Korb - Marcelo Saragosa, Perry Kitchen - Lewis Neal (Branko Boskovic 84), Chris Pontius, Nick DeLeon (Robbie Russell 90) - Lionard Pajoy (Hamdi Salihi 82).

TEAM NEWS

  • While United did see their three-game winning streak come to an end, they did extend their winless run to four games – all since losing playmaker Dwayne De Rosario for the season with a knee injury.
  • “A tie is probably fair when all is said and done. It’s disappointing when you have the lead and give it up, and only get one point out of it. I thought we gave them a lot of their chances, which is disappointing,” said United head coach Ben Olsen. “We have to find ways now to kill games off and we’ve done a pretty good job of that as of late, but it will help if we can find a way now to get the second [goal] when we do have the lead and teams are pushing.”
  • With the road point – their consecutive result on the road – United remained in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with three games to play. Two of D.C.’s final league games are away from RFK Stadium.
  • “It’s a long way and to come away with something is a positive especially with our road form this year,” said Olsen. “It hasn’t been stellar, but as of late we got a win and a tie on the road so, it’s something to build on. We’re in a heated race, some teams picked up some points on us, but in the standings it’s a huge point.”
  • Said Chris Pontius: “It’s tight in the East right now, and Houston and Columbus picked up wins tonight, so we got to go to Toronto and get three points there and see things out the rest of the way. We control our own destiny, that’s what you want, so we’re in a position to do that.”
  • Portland’s tying goal was their first conceded since the Sept. 15 win against New England and snapped the club’s shutout streak at 315 minutes, the longest this season.
  • Olsen changed his tactics around for the first match of the two-game swing, moving Pontius into a central role as an underneath forward, with Lionard Pajoy, and Lewis Neal making the start in a wide role.
  • “I thought they did a good job of winning some head balls and, me and Lio [Pajoy] are just trying to create as much havoc for them as possible, find good spots and hopefully make them make some decisions where we can force them out of their shape and get some looks on goal,” Pontius said.
  • “It’s a good road result, but some guys feel like we could have come out with a little bit more. We would have liked three points, but they came back and fought hard to salvage a goal,” defender Brandon McDonald said. “For us, it’s one of those things where we’d like to have three but we’ll take the road point.”