November 20, 2019

D.C. United Game 15 Recap: United solidifies position as MLS’ worst team with loss to Toronto FC

There can be no mistaking now just how bad D.C. United is, after a 2-1 home loss last night to Toronto FC – who, like United, entered the match with just one win on the 2013 Major League Soccer season. United fell to 1-11-3 (6 points) with the loss, and extended its winless streak to 13 matches. Toronto FC improved to 2-7-5 (11 points).

This match had most of the hallmarks of any other United league match this season – shoddy defending on restarts, an offense that created next to nothing, and the inability to execute what on the surface would be rather simple plays at the professional level. Despite taking an early 1-0 lead on a Dwayne De Rosario penalty kick, United were down 2-1 by halftime thanks to a familiar poisonous combination – giving up a goal on a restart, and an own goal (also on a free kick).

Robert Earnshaw scored the equalizing goal in the 30th minute, besting United defender Brandon McDonald in the penalty area for a ball in the air to head past Bill Hamid. Steven Caldwell served the long ball on a free kick from just inside Toronto’s half of the field. McDonald had plenty of time to judge it, but from behind, Earnshaw out-jumped McDonald (and perhaps pushed him in the back), and headed past Hamid’s right at the near post. McDonald immediately gestured toward referee Hilario Grajeda, but to no avail. That goal came 11 minutes after De Rosario converted from the spot after Toronto FC defender Gale Agbossoumonde clipped United midfielder Nick DeLeon in the penalty area – the culmination of a 50-yard run on the ball by DeLeon.

Another 11 minutes after Earnshaw’s equalizer, however, United scored again – but for the third time this season (officially), it was into their own net. This time, Luis Silva launched a free kick from 40 yards out, a bit to the right of Hamid’s goal. As the ball entered the center of the penalty area, Ryan Richter jumped to try and head it, but missed. The ball then fell straight to United defender Daniel Woolard, who headed it to the upper corner past Hamid’s left side.

United never really recovered, putting together a brief decent spell in the second half and posting three shots on goal for the game. But aside from DeLeon’s long run that led to De Rosario’s penalty conversion, there were few instances where United were threatening – as has been the case for much of the season.

United were playing without midfielder Chris Pontius, and defenders Ethan White and James Riley, all injured. Woolard went down late in the second half after being elbowed by Toronto’s Darel Russell – his first action since coming on a minute prior. De Rosario was subbed off for Rafael after 70 minutes. Lionard Pajoy started alone at forward and committed more fouls (2) than he took shots (1 – not on goal). Casey Townsend was brought on for Sainey Nyassi for the final half-hour to try and boost the attack, and had one shot (not on goal).

Not that Toronto were a ton better, which will double the frustration for United over this loss that continued their mind-numbing winless streak. Toronto had but the one shot on goal (Earnshaw’s goal). United had much the better of possession (58 percent), but as usual, it came to nothing thanks to a cavalcade of wayward crosses, intercepted passes, and trying one too many passes in and around the area when a simple strike at goal would do.

The loss leaves United five points behind Toronto FC and Chivas USA as the worst team in MLS. United are 16 points adrift of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, currently held by Sporting Kansas City. With not even half the season complete, United are already 20 points behind the first-place Montreal Impact in the East.

United’s seven goals scored (in other team’s nets) this season are the worst in MLS, and the club’s 26 goals allowed are tied for the worst with Chivas USA. Most shattering for United is that the club is one of only three in MLS with a negative home goal differential, and it’s a shocking -10. The others are Chivas USA (-6) and Toronto (-1).

It also must be noted that on a points-per-game basis, United’s current pace of 0.40 would leave it as the worst team in MLS history, behind the 1999 New York/New Jersey MetroStars (0.47) and the 2001 Tampa Bay Mutiny (0.52). The MetroStars were later rebranded as the Red Bulls. The Mutiny were contracted after the 2001 season.

What awaits United’s long-term future is anyone’s guess given the ongoing stadium discussions, but in the short term, the club will try to end their winless streak next Saturday, back at RFK Stadium, in a 7 p.m. kickoff against the San Jose Earthquakes. The Quakes beat Colorado last night, 2-1.

NOTES:  Newly-acquired United defender Alain Rochat started and played the entire match. … The match was rather physical, featuring 30 fouls (17 by United), but only three yellow cards. Aside from the one earned by Russell, D.C.’s Woolard and Toronto’s Caldwell were also cautioned. … United took five corner kicks to Toronto’s one. … The announced attendance was 13,846. … Elsewhere around MLS last night, Vancouver bested New England, 4-3; Columbus upset Montreal, 2-0; and Portland beat FC Dallas, 1-0.

Ed Morgans is a Contributor to District Sports Page, covering D.C. United. For in-game analysis and story notifications, follow him on Twitter @writered21.

About Ed Morgans

Ed Morgans is DC United Page Editor for District Sports Page. Ed worked for The Journal Newspapers (now The Examiner) and covered DC United from 1997-2002. He spent the 2003 season writing for the club’s website. Ed has covered All-Star Games, MLS Cups, CONCACAF Champions Cup, World Cup qualifiers, and international friendlies. He also worked as a blogger at www.bigsoccer.com, the country’s leading soccer message board website. You can follow Ed on Twitter @writerEd21.

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