DC can't find spark in Toronto
TORONTO -- The road to the 2009 MLS Cup Playoffs just got a little more difficult for coach Tom Soehn and D.C. United after Saturday's 2-0 loss to Toronto FC.On a hot and humid afternoon at BMO Field, Soehn and his charges were visibly frustrated after a lackluster offensive effort where they had just three shots on target but surrendered two easy goals to Toronto midfielder Dwayne De Rosario and rookie O'Brian White.Both were left unmarked in the D.C. penalty area, leaving goalkeeper Josh Wicks with little chance."We have a mentality when we play at home that we are going to do all the little things right but we go on the road and throw all that away," said Soehn. "We have the impression that things are going to come easy for us because we have talent and that it is enough, but it is not enough."Both teams played their last matches against Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid, with Toronto dropping a 5-1 decision to "Los Galacticos" on August 7 and D.C. falling by a 3-0 scoreline to the La Liga side two days later.Soehn indicated there seemed to be a letdown in United's play on Saturday after last week's match against Real Madrid, where he felt his team performed admirably."There was a total performance dropoff -- and that is what happens when you have five or six players not playing up to their capabilities," said Soehn. "It's no time to hang our heads given the tightness of the playoff race -- we are going to need to adjust quickly."Soehn did credit midfielder Andrew Jacobson, who replaced midfielder John DiRaimondo in the 46th minute, with uplifting the play of United.Desperate to find a spark, Soehn then inserted veteran striker Jaime Moreno in place of midfielder Fred in the 65th minute.However, just seconds after Moreno entered the field of play, White struck for Toronto's second goal, deflating United's hopes of getting back into the game."Today was one of those games where they had two great chances and they put both of them away," said Moreno. "We don't have time to look back at our past mistakes. We have some tough competition coming up in both the league and in CONCACAF [Champions League] competition -- we need to be prepared and make the necessary sacrifices."There was also some good news on the injury front for D.C. ahead of Tuesday's Champions League game in San Pedro Sula against Marathon.Midfielder Clyde Simms (hernia surgery), defender Bryan Namoff (hamstring) and forward Santino Quaranta (hamstring strain) all returned to Soehn's starting 11 on Saturday.Namoff made several key tackles before being replaced in the 76th minute by recently acquired defender Julius James.James who was drafted by TFC in 2008 but acquired by D.C. from Houston the day before, entered the game against his former team and was greeted with some good-natured boos and jabs from the sellout crowd.Quaranta played the full 90 minutes, and after setting up striker Luciano Emilio for a scoring opportunity in the 36th minute, narrowly missed notching his third regular season goal in stoppage time but was thwarted when Toronto midfielder Amado Guevara cleared his shot off the goal line.Simms also played his first full game and after the entering Sunday's game against Real Madrid as a substitute.The central midfielder took a couple of knocks from Toronto rookie midfielder Amadou Sanyang early in the first half but adjusted to the physical tone and played a solid match."I'm glad I got that first 90 minutes under my belt," said Simms. "It was a struggle at some points of the game, fitness wise. With an injury like this (hernia) you can only do so much until you get back on the field -- you can run as much as you want but match fitness is completely different and it just takes more games to get it back."Four players were still missing from the D.C. lineup due to injury: forward Chris Pontius (quadriceps strain), midfielder Brandon Barklage (ACL surgery), forward Thabiso Khumalo (broken radius) and forward Ange N'Silu (hamstring strain).Referee Alex Prus handed out six yellow cards in the match with four going to Toronto and two to United. Canadian international defender Dejan Jakovic was cautioned for reckless play in the 22nd minute and Simms booked for the same offense in the 72nd minute -- but they were just two of six fouls on the day for the visitors."It's disconcerning we're on the road and we had six fouls today -- that just shows me that we're just not fighting enough," Soehn said.