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Preview: D.C. United at Toronto FC

D.C. United jets to Toronto with unbeaten run at stake

MLS MATCHDAY 32
D.C. United at Toronto FC
Saturday, October 6 - 1:00 PM ET
TV: Comcast SportsNet - Find CSN in your area

D.C. United travels to Toronto for a Saturday afternoon match (1 p.m. ET, Comcast SportsNet) against a team mired in an 11-game League winless streak and squarely in last place of the Eastern Conference. Though Toronto FC has managed just 22 points from 31 matches this season, and allowed a League-worst 59 goals, United refuses to look past an opponent that will be hungry for points in front of their home fans.

“I don’t think any of us have looked at Toronto’s record and said this is going to be an easy game,” said midfielder Chris Pontius moments before departing RFK Stadium for the airport on Friday. “We’re on the road with a team who doesn’t have much to lose and we need three points – it’s as simple as that.”

Most recently, Toronto fell to New York at Red Bull Arena, despite a sixth-minute goal from Ryan Johnson that saw TFC up 1-0 early. The Red Bulls came roaring back – led by Thierry Henry’s one-goal, three-assist performance – and easily dispatched of the visitors 4-1.

With leading goal-scorer Danny Koevermans and designated player Torsten Frings both out for the remainder of the season, United will need to focus on speedster Johnson (7G, 4A), crafty Luis Silva (5G, 5A), and mid-season acquisition Eric Hassli, who has three goals and two assist in just six matches wearing Toronto red.

“We have to be focused on every play for the whole 90 minutes,” said D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid, who has allowed just a single goal over the team’s previous three matches. “The mentality has to be right throughout the whole game for us to succeed. This is a dangerous team – this is a team that is fighting for next year and for their jobs.”

The only positive for Toronto lately has come in CONCACAF Champions League, where the team is hoping to move on to the knockout stage of the regional tournament. Facing Aguila in El Salvador ten days ago, Toronto got two goals from midfielder Terry Dunfield en route to a 3-0 win.

Currently sitting in fourth place in the crowded Eastern Conference, a win Saturday would go a long way towards solidifying D.C.’s playoff aspirations. The team controls its own destiny with three games remaining, but United supporters would be happy to see sixth place Columbus drop points against front-runners Kansas City on Sunday. The focus for the players, however, is squarely on Saturday’s contest.

“I think the mentality everyone’s taking is that we’re going in to win this game,” said Pontius. “Anything short of that would be a disappointment.”

» ANALYSIS: Volkswagen Keys to the Match

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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.

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