A four-game unbeaten streak has D.C. United brimming with confidence as the club heads north of the border to face bottom-dwelling Toronto FC. What could go wrong? A lot. Though the competition may be mired in mediocrity this season, nothing should be taken for granted by the Black-and-Red. United has recently seen Houston, Chicago and Columbus fall to teams further down the standings and will not want to do the same on Saturday. Attention to detail remains paramount for the club to take one more huge step towards playoff qualification. We provide insight into specifics that should see United do exactly that.
Make the most of your opportunities
D.C. United has seen improved performances on the road since a listless 0-3 loss in Montreal August 25. Since that match, the Black-and-Red are 1-1-1 away from RFK Stadium. Central to the results have been increased focus on shape, focus and communication. Each of these matches, though, have been close affairs with none of the games decided by more than one goal. Playing more conservatively on the road, United attackers may be limited in quality chances to score. It may very well be up to one of them to take advantage of the golden opportunity as it occurs. Doing so may make all of the difference in seeing United return home with a result.
Get the first goal
Nothing new here. D.C. United is 11-2-1 this season when scoring first. Getting on the scoreboard first is especially important when facing a club on an 11-game winless streak. Having not won a League match since mid-July, it is especially important to not allow Toronto FC to taste any early success. That first tally may be all that is needed in order to turn a crowd of already surly spectators against their home side and to break the spirit of the eleven men on the field in red. In running their record to a League-worst 5-19-7 (22 points), TFC has struggled with and without possession. Only three teams have fewer goals than Saturday's hosts, while Toronto FC has allowed an unparalleled 59 goals on the campaign. With the statistics pointing in favor of United, a first goal for the Black-and-Red could very well lead the visitors to a full three points.
There's no getting around this. United is facing the worst club in the League Saturday. A result is highly possible and the Black-and-Red would like nothing more than to make a playoff statement prior to the final two matches of the season. Three points Saturday means that Houston (vs. Montreal, vs. Philadelphia and at Colorado) would likely need six points and Columbus (vs. Sporting Kansas City, at D.C. United, vs. Toronto FC) would likely need seven points just to surpass United's 54 points accrued through 32 games.
It's worth noting that the two remaining foes on D.C. United's schedule (vs. Columbus, at Chicago) are both in the playoff mix and will not be easy matches. A win Saturday would allow the Black-and-Red to look ahead to a possible playoff run with great confidence.
Seize the day.