April 20, 2019

D.C. United Game 20 Recap: United romp past Toronto to continue streak

D.C. United improved to 4-1 without injured leading scorer Fabian Espindola, and 11-5-4 (37 points) overall with a resounding 3-0 thumping of Toronto FC (7-7-5, 29) before 16,171 at RFK Stadium. United, second place in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference and winners of four straight, brushed aside the conference’s third-place team with ease thanks to goals from Eddie Johnson and Chris Rolfe, then a TFC own goal set up by some terrific work by D.C. midfielder Nick DeLeon.

United goalkeeper Bill Hamid was called upon to make a couple quality saves among the eight he totaled, but for the most part, D.C. were better on the ball, did more advanced work off the ball, and United’s defense were somewhat of a brick wall compared to that of TFC. With space open on all sides of the field, it was only a matter of time before United, even without the seven goals and eight assists from Espindola in the lineup, made Toronto pay.

The onslaught began in the eighth minute, when for the first time this season, Johnson scored from open play, crashing home a header from the middle of the penalty area off a perfect Perry Kitchen cross. Johnson has now scored in three straight games, but the other two came from penalty kicks and Johnson’s opening goal of the campaign was a header from a corner kick.

Kitchen, meanwhile, was the best American midfielder on the field, even with U.S. National Team stalwart Michael Bradley in the 11 for Toronto. The assist was his second of the season to go with three goals, and his defensive work was on point as always.

Chris Rolfe made it 2-0 in the 59th minute, converting on a 1-0n-1 chance with Toronto goalkeeper Joe Bendik after DeLeon was felled in the penalty area. Referee Chris Penso played advantage and Rolfe finished the chance neatly.

DeLeon was also involved in the third goal, opening up space for himself in the box after first eluding Justin Morrow, then dispensing of would-be defender Nick Hagglund. His shot was saved by Bendik, but then it was knocked into the net by a recovering Hagglund.

Since losing Espindola, United have outscored its opponents, 10-4. United looks to continue the surge Sunday at the Houston Dynamo (8 p.m., CSN).

THE GOOD: A lot to choose from. But DeLeon’s moves both on his goal and in the midfield to create space and hold possession were of high quality.

THE BAD: Johnson, Davy Arnaud, and Chris Korb were all cautioned. But really, that’s being picky. Nothing to complain about over tonight’s performance.

THE UGLY: This was Hagglund’s second straight game vs. United that went really poorly. Good for United, but given TFC’s appetite for success by bringing in guys like Bradley and Jermain Defoe, the defense (28 goals allowed) has to be shored up for the Reds to be a serious MLS Cup contender.

  • The club announced the acquisition of defender Kofi Opare, via trade with the Los Angeles Galaxy. According to the club, the Galaxy also sent United its second-round pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. The Galaxy move up to United’s spot in the allocation order. Opare will provide defensive depth which is needed since center back Jeff Parke remains out injured, though rookie Steve Birnbaum (90 minutes tonight) is doing well in his absence.Opare is a 23-year-old Canadian defender. He had five starts in his six appearances for the Galaxy this season. Opare made six appearances (all starts) for Los Angeles in 2013, his rookie season. Opare played his college soccer at the University of Michigan.

Ed Morgans is the D.C. United Page Editor for District Sports Page. He covered United for The Journal Newspapers from 1997-2002. 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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