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Know Your Enemy: DC United - Part Two: Game Film, Exploitation and Points of Interest

The second installment of the Know Your Enemy series, previewing TFC’s upcoming opponent, DC United – reviewing the game film and highlighting a few points of interest.

Toronto-born DC - Kyle Porter & Dwayne De Rosario keep an eye on Kenny Cooper
Toronto-born DC - Kyle Porter & Dwayne De Rosario keep an eye on Kenny Cooper
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Part One was posted earlier and can be found here.

Game Film – The Tactics

Goal scoring has been a real issue for DC United with a mere six goals all season – five on which have come in their seven home matches – and have been shutout nine times in fourteen matches.

Of concern to Toronto will be that Dwayne De Rosario, after being banished to the bench in two of the last three matches, sprang to life in the Open Cup with a midweek hat-trick - just in time to face one of his former clubs.

Rest assured, now bristling with confidence, should TFC allow any free-kicks within range, Dwayne will stand over them with vengeance on the mind. His only goal in league play, against Dallas, came from one such opportunity.

De Rosario’s vision, even while the team was struggling, is of equal concern. He calmly forgoes a shot to roll this pass back to Perry Kitchen.

Kitchen, their young defensive midfielder, has been impressive - remaining composed while others around him shrink. The likes of Chris Pontius and Nick DeLeon, battling both injury and form, were expected be serious offensive contributors and have failed to show consistency this season – that said, they are due.

Kyle Porter’s emergence has been the lone pleasant surprise for United fans. After having had a goal against Columbus allowed, then bizarrely ruled offside, Porter nabbed his first in MLS against Kansas City recently.

He is a tricky wide player that will give the TFC outside backs fits and no doubt be up for a game against his hometown club.

With so few goals to examine, patterns fail to emerge.

Lionard Pajoy, despite being ridiculed for his lack of finishing ability, is their top scorer with two goals in the league - against Salt Lake and Philadelphia, both headers.

Crucially, DC have only held the lead for 30 minutes the entire season – in their only win, 1-0 versus Salt Lake. As such, the first goal will be crucial to settle fears, but should Toronto fall behind they must press, as DC will be unaccustomed to holding that lead and will likely see the nerves creep.


If the absence of information made analyzing how they score tricky, a surplus crowds how they concede.

DC has given up twenty-four goals through their fourteen MLS matches, tied for second worst in the league – though with one-less game played – with Philadelphia, behind only Chivas in that most unwanted of statistical damnations.

They have struggled in most facets of the defensive side of the ball, but a few areas that stand out are dead-balls, wilting under pressure, and low shots across the keeper.

Columbus’ Josh Williams, a very dangerous man on restarts, has two of his three goals against DC - first from a Tyson Wahl free-kick in their first meeting, then from a Federico Higuain corner kick in their second.

Struggling to pick up marks on set-pieces has been exacerbated by flick-ons, further muddying the defensive responsibilities. Both New York’s Jamison Olave and Houston’s Will Bruin have benefitted from near-post flicks that led to goals – that may be of use, should Toronto miraculously find a way to not waste every dead-ball chance they are afforded.

Frail to begin with, when pressured United will make mistakes – Toronto should continue to press and do so as high up the field as possible, they may well force dangerous turnovers.

Against Kansas City, a woeful giveaway from the now-released Panamanian Marcos Sanchez is forced by good work from Soony Saad, who blows past a defender, Marcelo Saragosa, on the end-line and cuts back into the path of Claudio Bieler for an 89th minute game-winner.

Those near-post cutbacks can be deadly.

For the sadistically-minded, it is recommended that the highlights from their embarrassing 0-4 loss at home be viewed, though it is unlikely they will have another equally poor performance this season – it was just one of those nights.

Bill Hamid is a big boy back there in the DC goal, but he does not use his size to its full advantage – few forwards would dare go anywhere near him if he did. As a younger keeper he still has a lot to learn about angles and reading the trajectory of low shots – and their eventual bounces.

Thierry Henry, who has beaten many a keeper in a similar fashion, gave him a lesson with his specialty – drifting to the left, hanging out on the edge of the box, then shifting onto his right-foot for a low shot placed across the goalkeeper.

The ball bounces over the outstretched arms of Hamid, who would surely want that one back. Jonathan Osorio, Luis Silva, and Jeremy Hall, hanging out on the edge of the area, may find some similar joy.

Points of Interest

DC currently sits in tenth in the East (and bottom of the league) with six points after fourteen games – a record of one win, three draws, and ten losses overall (one win, one draw and five losses at home) – two points behind Toronto, who have a game in hand.

They have a minus-eighteen goal differential, compared to TFC’s minus-seven.

In a strange twist of fate, both teams had their last league win on March 9th – DC over Salt Lake hours after Toronto defeated Kansas City – does either break that long winless run, or is a diplomatic draw on the cards?

The two sides have met fifteen times in MLS play, with DC winning ten, TFC three, and drawing twice. DC won all three matches last season – 0-2 and 0-1 in Toronto, bookending a 3-1 win in DC.

Toronto has only ever won once at RFK Stadium, 2-3 in 2010 on a De Rosario second-half brace after Maicon Santos scored in the 23rd minute. Santino Quaranta and Jaime Moreno tallied for DC.

That was their last win in the all-time series, with DC winning four of the last five.

The other was a 3-3 draw in 2011 with De Rosario netting a hat-trick against former club, Toronto, and Peri Marosevic, Julian de Guzman, and some guy named Danny Koevermans scored for the Reds. De Rosario’s third goal tied the match in the 88th minute – late goals ruining TFC games since 2007.

De Rosario has played Toronto three times since he departed midway through 2011 – he was injured for the final meeting between clubs last season – scoring five goals.

This is the first of three meetings this season; they play again in DC on August 24th and in Toronto on September 28th.

Olsen is a licensed minister and presided over the nuptials of then-teammate, Nick Rimando. Thanks Wikipedia.

Robbie Russell retired from the game earlier this season and is off to Medical School – one of those only in MLS stories.