The Black-and-Red are back at Audi Field Saturday to take on our friends from north of the border.
A condensed 4-game stretch concludes with a matchup against Toronto FC (3-2-7, W-D-L) at 6:30 p.m., broadcasting live on NBC Sports Washington, dcunited.com, TeleXitos, and ESPN+.
The matchday conditions will be far from hospitable for anyone, especially our Canadian visitors. The match was originally slated to kickoff at 4 p.m., but due to expected high temperatures and humidity, Major League Soccer pushed kick-off back to 6:30 p.m.
This game will be an important one for many reasons, but the opportunity to secure three points at home against an Eastern Conference rival is chief among them.
Toronto FC have struggled this season, particularly in recent weeks. Their trip to the Nation’s Capital comes after suffering 4 consecutive losses, with the most recent two coming in devastating fashion.
After conceding a 90th minute winner to Vancouver on May 8, they allowed all three points to slip away in the 92nd minute versus Orlando City.
Set pieces have been a point of weakness all season for both D.C. and Toronto. In the first meeting between them this season, Toronto capitalized on a poorly defended set piece, sparking a comeback victory at BMO Field.
Since then, Toronto has managed wins over the first and second-place teams in the Eastern Conference, New York City FC and Philadelphia Union. But beyond those three performances, they've struggled– particularly on the road.
Less than ideal conditions, coupled with what is sure to be a rowdy crowd at Audi Field, could spell trouble for the Reds.
But, as Chad Ashton told the media in his pre-match press conference on Thursday, Toronto possesses some lethal playmakers in Alejandro Pozuelo and Jonathan Osorio, and an even more lethal striker in Jesús Jiménez.
The Last Time Out
For the Black-and-Red, Saturday presents an opportunity to quickly bounce back from a 2-0 home defeat against NYCFC—one in which set pieces continued to be a problem.
“Sometimes I feel like it becomes mental,” Ashton said about his team’s defending of set pieces. “Having said that, we need to own our part. We need to win our individual battles...We’re covering that going into every game, but we’re not necessarily executing it on the field.”
In recent weeks, D.C. United were firing on all cylinders in the final third with Taxi Fountas leading the charge. Despite creating a number of chances on Wednesday, the Black-and-Red failed to hit the target against NYCFC.
It was a frustrating outing, but D.C. hope to channel that frustration into complete performance on Saturday, particularly since this will be their final home game until June 25.
“We’ve been able to create,” midfielder Julian Gressel said during his pre-match press conference. “We’ve been able to be dangerous. We’ve got to put the few chances away, especially at home.”
It’s way too early in the season to be talking about the playoff picture, but above the playoff line is where every team wants to be as the season progresses and D.C. could get there with a win this weekend.
For tickets to Saturday’s match at Audi Field, head to dcunited.com/tickets.
Military & Service Appreciation Match
On Saturday, D.C. United will also be honoring veterans and members of our military with the annual Military & Service Appreciation Match.
At halftime. the club will be honoring 11 warriors with the Wounded Warrior Project and present the D.C. United Community Champion award to an individual in our community that embodies the highest levels of excellence, service, leadership, and justice.
D.C. United and GovX have partnered to offer all active and retired military and first responders discounted tickets to all 2022 D.C. United MLS matches. Purchase them here.