Match Analysis with Chad Ashton

Match Analysis: D.C. United v Toronto FC

It was a convincing result on a memorable night. With a 3-0 victory over Toronto FC, D.C. United won its fourth game in a row, matching its longest winning streak since May 2012 while gaining three more crucial points to stay near the top of the Eastern Conference.

“Great win,” D.C. United Assistant Coach Chad Ashton said. “It put some distance between us and Toronto, and it allows us to stay right on Kansas City’s heels. So, it’s a monster, monster win.”

Among the notable performances, Bill Hamid tied his career-high saves with eight, and Eddie Johnson tallied in his third game in a row, a feat he last accomplished in 2007 with Dallas.

“A 3-0 win is always a great team result from front to back,” United captain Bobby Boswell said, and Ashton agrees.

“I don’t think you can pinpoint one thing or one player,” he said. “It’s a lot of good performances from a lot of guys, and you put a lot of pressure on teams when so many guys play well. Bill’s not letting anything in back there as well, so you can point out guy after guy, but there were many great performances on the field.”

A classic Johnson header from Perry Kitchen’s perfect service put the Black-and-Red up in the eighth minute, immediately deflating Toronto FC.

“I think as he’s scored some goals, you can see his energy level out there rise,” United Head Coach Ben Olsen said. “That’s how goal scorers are. They start to score, and they want more, and they put more effort in.”

The effort was there from Johnson all game, making the defenders’ night difficult and demanding their attention. In addition, Nick DeLeon shined in the second half, taking players on, working back defensively and playing a large role in United’s second and third goals.

When DeLeon was taken down in the box, having just dribbled through a Toronto defender, it was a clear penalty. The referee let the advantage play, and Chris Rolfe finished with poise, putting United up, 2-0. Less than ten minutes later, DeLeon again showed off his skill, skirting around Nick Hagglund and firing at Joe Bendik, who saved the ball into the path of Hagglund’s head and into the net for an own goal.

The 3-0 score line remained through the final whistle, and the coaching staff already had its mind on a visit to Houston on short rest.

“I think we just have to maintain our road mentality,” Ashton said. “We’ve been able to grind on the road. It’s not always pretty, but we do what we need to do to get a result.”

Beginning with the Dynamo, the Black-and-Red will have to find its road mentality four times in the coming month, with games Aug. 9 at Real Salt Lake, Aug. 23 at Sporting Kansas City and Aug. 27 at Los Angeles Galaxy. While there are fewer contests at home, they will be just as important: Aug. 17 against Colorado, Aug. 20 against Waterhouse FC in the team’s CONCACAF Champions League opener and Aug. 31 against arch rival New York Red Bulls.

Seven games in 29 days will present a stiff test to the entire roster.

“Definitely depth comes into play,” said Ashton. “That’s another thing that made this game so important. You take care of your business at home and put yourself in a good position, that way if you start to have a little bit of trouble on the road, you are sitting in a very god position. It’s always tough when you go into a stretch of a ton of games, but it will create opportunities for different players on our team, and hopefully everybody will continue to step up and help get us results.”