For the second time this week, D.C. United willface an opponent they've played within the last month as theBlack-and-Red battle Toronto FC on Saturday. Today, we take a look back at how D.C.toppled TFC 2-0 on May 5 and how it might translate to this weekend’s rematch.
IN ATTACK:Ryan Johnson was by far Toronto’s most dangerousoption offensively, but the strong striker missed on TFC’s two best chances ofthe match. In his first start innearly two months, Bill Hamid twice stoned Johnson from close range. Hamid seems to have Toronto’s number astwo of his ten career shutouts have come at their expense, so another big performance this weekend from the young star is not out of the question.
On the wings, speedster Reggie Lambe looked tohave a favorable matchup against Chris Korb, but the Akron product all buteliminated Lambe’s impact. Acrossthe field, Eric Avila played well and had a good sense for when to try and takeadvantage of Andy Najar’s desire to jump into attack from his right back spot.
Toronto’s forward corps enters Saturday a bithealthier than they were earlier this month. Both Danny Koevermans and Nick Soolsma missed the first match betweenD.C. and TFC but should be available this weekend.
Toronto did not handle D.C.’s high pressure welland as a result struggled to alleviate pressure deep in their own end. Credit to Danny Cruz, Chris Pontius and Maicon Santos, whodid much of the dirty work in harassing TFC’s back four. Though Aron Winter’s approach is tobuild out of the back, his defense – which has allowed more goals than anyother side in MLS – just isn’t playing with the confidence to do so.
Prior to the first matchup, TFC had struggled indefending set pieces and both United goals came within 45 seconds of a cornerkick. Neither was scored directlyfrom the dead ball, but rather after Toronto had failed to clear the originalservice. Branko Boskovic was really dangerous with his corners against Colorado on Wednesday and could find furthersuccess in that department on Saturday.
As mentioned earlier, Andy Najar made hisdebut as a starting right back in the most recent showdown between these twoteams. That day, the 19-year-oldwas extremely effective in getting up field and the understanding between heand Danny Cruz has only improved in recent weeks. If Najar starts there again this weekend, look for he and Cruz to causelots of trouble along Toronto’s left flank.