Trash talking is a bit of a rarity in Major LeagueSoccer. It’s even more of a raritywhen a team is winless – in fact pointless – in league play halfway through themonth of May. But it’s exactlywhat Toronto FC engaged in this week, as a pair of TFC players chose to takethinly veiled shots at D.C. United’s defense.
After a mid-week match in Vancouver, forward Ryan Johnsonkicked things off by saying that, if pressured, the Black-and-Red defense would‘make enough mistakes for us to capitalize on’. Former United goalie Milos Kocic took it to the next levelon Friday, stating that his former team had to ‘worry’ because, in his words, ‘theydon’t have the best defense in the world’.
“I’m not sure where Milos was going with that one,”goalkeeper Bill Hamid said with a smile after D.C. toppled Toronto 3-1. “We clearly shut them out on their hometurf. But we take that as a grainof salt.”
When D.C.’s players arrived at RFK late on Saturdayafternoon, Kocic’s comments were plastered on a prominent bulletin board in theteam locker room. As word spreadthroughout the Black-and-Red dressing room, so did a little extra motivation.
“It was brought to our attention,” defender Daniel Woolardacknowledged after D.C. answered TFC’s ‘talk’ with some ‘walk’ of their own.“I don’t know if it fueled anybody else, but I definitely wanted a shutouttonight.”
"Anytime somebody calls us out we take that personally," added Perry Kitchen.
Woolard and his teammates didn’t get the shutout, but theystifled Toronto at nearly every turn on Saturday. TFC managed just four shots on goal, and only one came in afirst half completely dominated by Ben Olsen’s side. Johnson himself was particularly quiet. Just one of the forward’s six shotsfound its way on frame, and Hamid was there to stop the 61st minuteeffort.
As perturbed as United’s defenders may have been by thevisitors’ comments, they were equally surprised. After all, it is Toronto’s defense - and not D.C.’s – that now ranks last in MLS with 21 goalsallowed.
“When you are 0-8 I don’t think you should be pointing to anotherteam’s defense,” added an incredulous Brandon McDonald after the match. “You have to look inside and see whatis going on with yourself.”
Asked if his defense had answered their criticssufficiently, Hamid got right to the point.
“Yes,” the 21-year-old responded without hesitation. ”We didn’t give them many chances atall.”