Toronto FC vs. DC United | MLS Match Preview

TORONTO FC vs D.C. UNITED
BMO FIELD, Toronto, Ont.
March 22, 2014 (WEEK 3, MLS Game #20)
4:30 p.m. ET (TSN/Univision Deportes)

Riding the wave of their season-opening victory, Toronto FC get to kick off their new era in front on their home fans when they face D.C. United on Saturday afternoon at BMO Field. The new-look TFC started their season with a 2-1 win last weekend at Seattle Sounders FC. United return to action after a week off, opening their new season with a 3-0 home loss to the Columbus Crew.

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REFEREE: Silviu Petrescu. SAR (bench): Joe Fletcher; JAR (opposite): Gianni Facchini; 4th: Jose Carlos Rivero
MLS Career: 76 games; FC/gm: 27.7; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 10; pens: 11

SUSPENDED: none
DISABLED LIST: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (18 meetings): Toronto FC 5 wins, 25 goals … United 10 wins, 35 goals … Ties 3
AT TORONTO (9 meetings): Toronto FC 3 wins, 8 goals … United 6 wins, 11 goals … Ties 0
RETURN MATCHES: 7/5: Toronto FC vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m. ET; 7/30: D.C. United vs. Toronto FC, 7 p.m. ET

LAST YEAR (MLS):
6/15: DC 1, TOR 2 (De Rosario 19 – Earnshaw 30; own goal 41)
8/24: DC 1, TOR 1 (De Rosario 10 – Convey 60)
9/28: TOR 4, DC 1 (Russell 25; Dike 67; own goal 71; Rey 87 – Jeffrey 15)

  • D.C. United had a four-game winning streak at BMO Field, stretching over three seasons, snapped last year when TFC won 4-1 on Sept. 28. It was Toronto’s first home win vs. United since 2009.
  • TFC gained a win and a draw on their two trips to RFK Stadium last year, the victory just the club’s second all-time vs. United (first since 2010).
  • Coaches record: Ryan Nelsen vs. DC: P3 W2 L0 D1 … Ben Olsen vs. TOR: P10 W5 L3 D2

TORONTO FC
Toronto FC began their new era with a great result, coming away with a 2-1 win against Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday afternoon at CenturyLink Field. TFC sit in a tie for third place in the Eastern Conference, with 3 points from 1 match.

LAST MATCH

  • Toronto FC took the lead in just the 17th minute. Jonathan Osorio sprung Jermain Defoe with a slick through ball up the center of the park, and Defoe took one touch before rifling a low shot from about 16 yards that beat Sounders FC goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
  • TFC and Defoe each had their second just seven minutes later. Under pressure, Sounders midfielder Marco Pappa sent a loose pass toward his own goal which was picked off by Defoe, and he unleashed a virtually uncontested shot from some 20 yards out just inside the right post.
  • Sounders FC finally pulled a goal in the 67th minute. Lamar Neagle freed a charging Obafemi Martins on the right flank, and he eventually found Clint Dempsey at the top of the penalty area, who escaped a defender and pounded a shot inside the near post to make it 2-1.
  • TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen had Designated Players Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe in his first lineup of the season, with Julio Cesar in goal and Dwayne De Rosario also in attack.
  • TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Julio Cesar - Mark Bloom, Doneil Henry, Steven Caldwell, Justin Morrow - Alvaro Rey (Bradley Orr 65), Jonathan Osorio, Michael Bradley, Jackson (Ashtone Morgan 90) - Jermain Defoe, Dwayne De Rosario (Andrew Wiedeman 63).

TEAM NEWS

  • Toronto FC opened the MLS season with a victory for the first time since 2009, when they defeated Kansas City 3-2 on the road. Those are the only two times TFC has started a season with a win.
  • "We've got so much to improve on. We're not stupid – we know we have new players coming in that haven't played together. Our organization wasn't too bad, but we can be so much better off the ball,” said TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen. “What I like about this team is their heart, their character, their desire, that they want to win. That's what you hope for and build your house on that type of foundation. We know we have lots to improve on and we'll get back to work as soon as we can.”
  • Making his Major League Soccer debut, Jermain Defoe scored twice within the opening 24 minutes, having just arrived at the club a few days earlier.
  • “I think the most important thing is obviously winning the game, and to score two goals in your debut, it's a dream. The first goal was a great ball and you just have to finish it off,” said Defoe. “I thought the second half, we showed great character because they put us under a lot of pressure and you've got to do that sometimes away from home. Like I said before, the three points was massive.”
  • Said Nelsen: “That's why he's been at the level he's been at because he can do those sorts of things. Once you see it first hand, there's a reason why he's scored so many goals. He proved that to hopefully millions of people that watched the game today.”
  • Michael Bradley also overcame an injury in the days leading up to the match to feature in the center of the TFC midfield and play the full 90 minutes.
  • “What Michael brings is an absolute energy,” Nelsen said. “His character, his confidence, is infectious on people. He made Seattle turn over the ball a lot of times. He got into very nice positions. You need character and strength to battle what the opposition throw at you and Michael was right in the middle of everything.”
  • Alvaro Rey and Jackson filled the wide roles, switching sides continually throughout the match to unbalance the Sounders FC scheme.
  • “Just to see different kind of skill set. Alvaro (Rey) is probably the polar opposite player to Jackson so sometimes they get used to a player and deal with a different kind of skill set. We like to move them around as much as we can to unsettle them,” Nelsen said.
  • Jonathan Osorio recorded his second career assist in setting up TFC’s and Defoe’s opener – his first coming in his last MLS match, the season finale last year vs. Montréal.
  • “I said to Jonathan, I said to him, ‘when I make the runs, just look for me,’ and he said, ‘yeah, I’ll look for you straight away,’” Defoe said.  “It was an unbelievable pass. I’ve always worked on those situations, one-on-one with the goalkeeper. You have to be clinical.”

D.C. UNITED
D.C. United return to action after a week off, their 2014 season getting off to a rocky start with a 3-0 home loss to the Columbus Crew on March 8 at RFK Stadium. United are in a tie for eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 0 points from 1 game.

LAST MATCH

  • The Crew hit for the opener 18 minutes in. Hector Jimenez found a streaking Josh Wiliams on the right flank, and he struck a curling, one-touch cross to Jairo Arrieta, whose sliding effort got past outstretched United goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
  • In the 27th minute, Columbus doubled its advantage. United midfielder Perry Kitchen and Crew defender Michael Parkhurst grappled while racing for a loose ball in the box, with referee Andres Pfefferokorn ruling that Kitchen committed a foul in the exchange. Higuain converted the ensuing penalty kick.
  • The Crew finished off the match in the 90th minute, as Federico Higuain tapped home the Crew's third goal from close range after Justin Meram found him wide open running into the box.
  • United head coach Ben Olsen had an all-new back four in Sean Franklin, Jeff Parke, Bobby Boswell and Christian Fernandez, with an all-new strike pair of Fabian Espindola and Eddie Johnson.
  • D.C. UNITED (4-3-1-2): Bill Hamid - Sean Franklin, Jeff Parke (Kyle Porter 82), Bobby Boswell, Christian Fernandez - Davy Arnaud (Conor Doyle 73), Perry Kitchen, Nick DeLeon (Lewis Neal 63) - Luis Silva - Fabian Espindola, Eddie Johnson.

TEAM NEWS

  • With an all-new back four, United conceded three goals to open the 2014 campaign. A year ago, United allowed three or more goals six times for the season, on their way to giving up 59 goals for the year.
  • "Defensively, we struggled to deal with how many numbers they threw at us,” D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen said. “I thought they did a very good job of offsetting us, and we didn’t handle things so well [defensively], in particular in the first half.”
  • Said center back Bobby Boswell: “We knew this was going to be a work in progress. I think our communication could’ve been better – it’s probably the first loud game we’ve played in together. For me, the killer was the first goal, honestly. We have to use this as a learning tool to figure out what we did wrong and correct those errors, and figure out what we did well and do more of those things.”
  • The new-look strike pair of Fabian Espindola and Eddie Johnson, who were with the New York Red Bulls and Seattle Sounders FC respectively last year, were also kept off the scoresheet. United were shut out 16 times in 2013, one shy of the all-time MLS record.
  • “I think [Johnson] was just a little off the mark. He made good runs. The balls we delivered to Eddie were just inches to short or just a little too long. Overall, it was good to see him out there,” Olsen said. “I think Fabian had a very good night. He was really busy and was a real handful for the Crew defense. Besides that, I think it was an overall disappointing night.”
  • Said Johnson: "[Our communication is] getting better every game. This is still a learning process – my time has been very limited with the team, and that’s what I’ve been reiterating in the papers and in the media, that we had a very small window in preseason. You want to try and get as much understanding from one another. That was a frustrating part.”
  • After spending 2013 primarily as a withdrawn forward, Luis Silva filled the role of an attacking midfielder in behind the front two of Espindola and Johnson.
  • "It’s a different position and I have to adjust to it," Silva said. "So far I’m doing well – my mind is on keeping our defense and midfield organized first. We’ve got two great guys up top that I can feed the ball to and rely on. I think as the season goes on I’m going to get more comfortable with both of them being up top, as opposed to last year when I only saw one guy up there, with me being the other.”
  • Said Olsen: “I think overall the way he moved the ball for us was good. But I’d still like to see him more threatening on the attack. I’d like to see him in spots that can really hurt other teams.”