May 8, 2009 MLS DC United vs Toronto FC pregame (from

Toronto FC set to face D.C. United
Reds play in Washington Saturday
By Toronto FC /

May 9, 2009 (WEEK 8) / MLS Game #57
7:30 p.m. ET (CSN-DC; RogersSN)

It's a top-of-the-table clash in the Eastern Conference ahead as D.C. United and Toronto FC come off midweek matches to face each other for the first time this season at RFK Stadium. United extended their unbeaten streak to four games and took over sole possession of East leadership with a 1-1 draw at Kansas City. Toronto FC are back on the road for the first time after two wins and a draw in three consecutive home games propelled the Reds to the top of the conference table; they also began their Canadian Championship campaign with a victory on Wednesday.

REFEREE: Baldomero Toledo. SAR (bench): Greg Barkey; JAR (opposite): Jason Cullum; 4th: Andrew Chapin
MLS Career: 70 games; FC/gm: 26.9; Y/gm: 4.0; R: 27; pens: 27

INJURY REPORT: D.C. UNITED - QUESTIONABLE: MF Ben Olsen (hamstring strain) ... TORONTO FC - OUT: FW O'Brian White (knee); QUESTIONABLE: DF Adrian Serioux (back); MF Sam Cronin (hamstring)


ALL-TIME (6 meetings): United 5 wins, 14 goals ... Toronto FC 1 win, 6 goals ... Ties 0
AT RFK STADIUM (3 meetings): United 3 wins, 11 goals ... Toronto FC 0 wins, 4 goals ... Ties 0
RETURN MATCHES: 8/15: D.C. United at Toronto FC, 4 p.m.

4/5: DC 4, TOR 1 (Emilio 2; Quaranta 5; Gallardo 52 - Edu 88)
5/21: TOR 1, DC 0 (Dichio 7)
5/24: DC 3, TOR 2 (Peralta 41; Moreno 70; Emilio 72 - Dichio 13, 45)

• In the second meeting between the teams last season, Toronto FC finally claimed their first-ever victory against United, a 1-0 win at BMO Field. United have won all three matches lifetime at RFK Stadium.

• D.C. United won all three meetings between the teams in Toronto FC's inaugural campaign. United claimed victories in the first two matches, both in Toronto, before winning the final encounter in the lone match at RFK Stadium.

• Coaches record: Tom Soehn v TOR: P6 W5 L1 D0 ... Chris Cummins vs. DC: first game

D.C. United moved into sole possession of the top spot in the Eastern Conference and extended their unbeaten run to four games, playing to a 1-1 draw with the Kansas City Wizards on Wednesday night at CommunityAmerica Ballpark. United now have 13 points from eight matches, a point ahead of Toronto FC at the top of the East table.

• United were riding a two-game winning streak in league play, having moved to the top of the Eastern Conference, while the Wizards were back in action after seeing their four-game unbeaten streak come to an end in a 1-0 loss to Toronto FC on April 26.

• United took the lead of a tight contest in the 27th minute. Jaime Moreno slipped the ball into the penalty area, and rookie Rodney Wallace was able to hold off Wizards fullback Lance Watson while rolling the ball under onrushing goalkeeper Kevin Hartman into the net for his second professional goal.

• But the Wizards pulled level seven minutes after the break. Jack Jewsbury swung in a low, curling cross from the right flank and Josh Wolff slid in to apply the slickest of touches, diverting the ball past Louis Crayton for his third goal on the campaign.

• United head coach Tom Soehn made four changes to the team that defeated FC Dallas 2-1 the weekend before at RFK Stadium. Avery John made his United debut, coming in for Marc Burch at left back, while Greg Janicki replaced Dejan Jakovic in the center of the back three. Andrew Jacobson came into the midfield for Ben Olsen, and Brandon Barklage made his first MLS start, in place of Luciano Emilio.

• Here's Soehn's team (3-4-1-2): Louis Crayton - Bryan Namoff, Greg Janicki, Avery John - Chris Pontius (Luciano Emilio 46), Andrew Jacobson, Clyde Simms, Rodney Wallace - Brandon Barklage (Christian Gomez 61) - Santino Quaranta, Jaime Moreno (Thabiso Khumalo 87). Substitutes Not Used: Dejan Jakovic, Milos Kocic, Devon McTavish, Ange N'Silu

• "[We] didn't do a good job of keeping the ball. It took us about 15 minutes to get our legs. Once we started to, we started opening up a little bit," said Soehn. "Then the game opened up. When we came out the second half, I felt we went back to that kickball and didn't do a good enough job of possession."

• Facing two games in a week for the second time in three weeks - and with another two-game week looming in two more weeks - Soehn took the opportunity to rest two former MLS MVPs in Christian Gomez and Luciano Emilio, though both came on in the second half.

• "Our mentality is pretty good. We're in the mindset that we're not going to lose games," Soehn said. "It's our third game in eight days. Our legs got a little tired, and we're having to run some guys 90-minute games in a row. [The heavy slate of games] affected us a little bit. We'll take it. [Kansas City] was pushing hard at the end. Obviously, they're at home. It's still a good result."

• Yet rookie Rodney Wallace has started each one of United's league games this season, and again popped up to score the opening goal, just as he did in the 3-2 win at New York on April 26. "It was a great team buildup -- knocking the ball back and forth. Jaime played me a ball through, and luckily I found the back of the net," said the Costa Rica native and sixth overall selection in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft.

• Janicki and John were straight changes as United maintained the back three they've used all year. Chris Pontius remained in a wide midfield role and Santino Quaranta moved to partner Jaime Moreno in attack, as Brandon Barklage - who had just 33 minutes in league play - played the attacking midfield role. Barklage had filled that spot in the Open Cup win against FC Dallas.

• Of the effect the changes will have, as United tries to attain their goal of seven points from the three-game stretch, Soehn said: "You can ask me Saturday after the game. I'm hoping we injected some legs in these guys now, so they can be effective at home."

• United have scored the opening goal in six of their eight games this season, yet have only a pair of victories to show for the early advantage. Three of those games have ended in ties.

• "Whenever you're up and end up losing a lead, you're a little down," Clyde Simms said. "But we are on the road and in first place right now. A tie is not a bad result. We can go into Saturday with some confidence."

Toronto FC extended their unbeaten run to three games in the first match after Chris Cummins was installed as interim head coach, coming back for a 1-1 home draw with the Columbus Crew on Saturday afternoon. TFC are now in second place in the Eastern Conference with 12 points from eight matches, trailing D.C. United by a single marker.

• Toronto FC came into the game as the Eastern Conference leaders following a pair of wins on home turf the weekend before, while the Crew entered at the foot of the division, still winless and off to the worst start for a defending champion.

• The Crew finally broke through nine minutes into the second half. Emmanuel Ekpo picked off a bouncing ball in midfield and raced goalward, splitting a pair of defenders on his way into the penalty area. There he rounded TFC goalkeeper Stefan Frei and rolled the ball into the empty net, the first goal allowed by Toronto in 240 minutes.

• But Toronto FC pulled even in the 64th minute. Sent down the left flank, Sam Cronin flighted in a cross that dropped perfectly between defenders and Chad Barrett stole in to snap a header past Andy Gruenebaum for his second goal on the season.

• TFC interim head coach Chris Cummins made no changes to the team he put out in his first match officially in charge, a 1-0 victory against the Kansas City Wizards.

• Here's Cummins' team (4-2-1-3): Stefan Frei - Marvell Wynne, Adrian Serioux, Marco Velez, Jim Brennan - Sam Cronin, Carl Robinson - Amado Guevara (Rohan Ricketts 80) - Chad Barrett, Danny Dichio (Dwayne De Rosario 46), Pablo Vitti. Substitutes Not Used: Nana Attakora-Gyan, Kevin Harmse, Fuad Ibrahim, Johann Smith, Greg Sutton

• "It was beautiful sunshine when we went out and then the heavens opened up," Cummins said. "We were still trying to play tippy-tappy football in the wrong areas. We tried to slide balls though and they were running off the pitch. We didn't play the conditions very well."

• In his first official match in charge after being named interim head coach (he was the coach of record, still technically an assistant, for the Kansas City game), Cummins did not change the formula that led to back-to-back wins. But he made a significant change after the break, bringing on Dwayne De Rosario - who had missed two full games with a hamstring injury - and revering to twin strikers with four midfielders.

• "I thought we did a bit better second half we started getting balls in the right areas and we got Amado [Guevara] a little more upfield and we showed more quality," Cummins said.

• The goal allowed by Stefan Frei against the Crew ended a 239-minute shutout streak, ranking third in TFC's short history, behind Greg Sutton's scoreless streaks of 273 and 250 minutes, respectively.

• "Stef's a fantastic young 'keeper -- he's got a bright future ahead of him, Cummins said. "I think he was on for keeping the longest clean sheet for so many minutes -- but let me tell you he'll get it again. Stef comes up with big saves for us and for a young lad he's got a terrific head on his shoulders."

• For Barrett, it was his second goal in four games after going the opening four matches of the season without finding the back of the net. "In the second half it was a pretty even game. We kind of woke up after they scored and we strung some passes together and took some control in the match. We showed a lot of character to get back in the game," he said.

• On Wednesday night, Toronto FC won the first match in the 2009 Nutrilite Canadian Championship, defeating Vancouver Whitecaps of the USL First Division 1-0 at BMO Field. The game's lone goal came after just three minutes, when Kevin Harmse strode forward to head home a Dwayne De Rosario cross.

• Harmse returned to his usual central midfield spot after making a series of league starts in central defense, while Nana Attakora-Gyan made his first start of the season in all competitions. "I thought Nana and Kevin were fantastic in their first starts of the season," said Cummins. "The two of them have gone in and did a great job. It's a squad game and I'm going to need the full squad. To the boys that have stepped it, they were first-class."

• Here Cummins's team (4-2-1-3): Stefan Frei - Marvell Wynne, Nana Attakora-Gyan, Marco Velez, Jim Brennan - Carl Robinson, Kevin Harmse - Amado Guevara - Pablo Vitti (Fuad Ibrahim 78), Chad Barrett (Danny Dichio 73), Dwayne De Rosario. Substitutes Not Used: Sam Cronin, Emmanuel Gomez, Rohan Ricketts, Johann Smith, Greg Sutton

• The game also avenged a home loss to Vancouver in the inaugural Canadian Championship, the qualifying event for the CONCACAF Champions League. TFC plays host to Montrιal next Wednesday in their next match in the tournament.

• "We had a game plan. We tried to open the game up, we played with two out-and-out wingers with DeRo and Pablo [Vitti]," Cummins said. "We wanted to stretch the game, hit diagonals and cause them a lot of problems so we could get Amado on the ball and Harmsey on the ball."

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