DC United roll into Toronto today. As many Toronto fans are still unfamiliar with MLS and its history, DC United is the club that set the standard during the leagues early years. After a tough start in 1996, they pulled it together to win the inaugural MLS Cup. The team included the likes of Bolivian great Marco Etcheverry, Jaime Moreno, Raul Diaz Arce, John Harkes, Eddie Pope, and Tony Sanneh. They were coached by Bruce Arena who moved on to become US National team boss. Bob Bradley served as the assistant. DC won MLS Cup in 1996, 1997, and 1999 (losing in the final to Chicago in 1998) and again in 2004 under coach Piotr Nowak.
They currently sit two points behind Toronto, with only one win to show for the first 5 games of the season. I thought DC were lucky in the first win against Chivas, as the penalty call was a bit sketchy in my opinion.
With all due respect to one of the best organizations in Major League Soccer, from what I've seen of them thus far, this is not one of the better DC United squads ever assembled. New coach Tom Soehn - Canadian fans will surely remember him from his CSL days when he came north of the border to earn a living, has to get things going soon or his long awaited opportunity may be very short lived. I will suggest their major downfall thus far has been defending. Facundo Erpen from Argentina, Bobby Boswell and Brian Namhof have been less than consistent. Talk has a deal for Polish International Bortosz Bosacki are in the early stages according to the Washington Post, and Former US International Tony Sanneh is said to be discussing a contract with his old club according to the Chicago Tribune.
DC United keeper Troy Perkins is far from a world beater. He is still young and will have to cope with the intimidating Toronto supporters in behind the net. That said, I hope Toronto shoots toward the south goal in the first half like last Saturday - its an important advantage in my estimation.
Offensively, Argentinian midfielder Christian Gomez and striker Luciano Emilio, a newly signed Brazilian, have been less than spectacular. Bolivian Jaime Moreno, who was recently called back to the Bolvian National team served as a spark plug against Chivas. DC have also signed Jamaican Nicolas Adderly who was scheduled to play in the USL this season. Ben Olsen, a member of the US National team in Germany last year is a long time MLS veteran. Injuries have hindered Olsen's career (he was once on loan to Nottingham Forrest and looked to be sure bet to land a contract in Europe).
Toronto needs to exploit the shortcomings of the DC United back line. I would suspect that Bobby Boswell will be assigned the Danny Dichio duty. Although I like Boswell, I don't rate him as highly as others in the league that have marked Dichio thus far (Conrad/Curtin). The DC back line will have a tough time with the big man. The question as to who will pair up with Dichio is an easy one. With all due respect to Edson Buddle, who has been much more effective in the last two matches (though he still doesn't have a goal to show for it) in my opinion, this will be Alecko Eskandarian's day to savour - a chance to get back at his old team.
This is the last match before the International assignments for the likes of Andrew Boyens and Carl Robinson, and the Canadians selected for the Gold Cup will soon be away for prolonged absences. Coupled with injury concerns to Andy Welsh, Ronnie O'Brien, Marco Reda, and Carl Robinson and the 6 game road swing during July quickly approaching (this due to the Under 20 World Cup being held in Canada) and you can see that a result today would be very important.
PREDICTION: DC United 0 - Toronto FC 0