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Toronto FC vs D.C. United: what to watch for

United are bad. Exploit them.

MLS: D.C. United at Toronto FC Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

After a top-of-the-table clash last weekend, the task at hand is a little less daunting for Toronto FC today. They're in Washington to visit D.C. United, who sit dead last in MLS on 18 points.

The two sides met at BMO Field back in June, when it took TFC a while to get going (although they eventually pulled out a 2-0 win). This time, at RFK Stadium, the on-form Reds will hope to find a similar result.

1. Don't get trapped

Just like the Colorado game at home a couple weeks ago, this could be a real trap game if TFC aren't careful. The last game against DCU was a very nervous affair for most of the first half, especially as Toronto struggled to put away their chances. This one being on the road as well, TFC will need to be very patient in trying to unlock a team that's going to sit behind the ball and keep them away from the box.

D.C. have lost six games in a row. That type of form rarely lasts in MLS. To avoid getting frustrated, TFC either need to finish their chances early, or stay very calm throughout the first half. If the ball's not going in, they can't be lashing out, especially with VAR coming in this weekend.

2. Exploit the midfield

United's defensive midfield is a major weakness. Neither Jared Jeffrey nor the injured Ian Harkes are much of an answer to Victor Vazquez and Michael Bradley. TFC can definitely punish D.C. through the middle of the pitch, where Vazquez will be able to unlock the defence and play Sebastian Giovinco through.

Of course, the midfield will probably be more congested than usual this weekend, with D.C. keeping men back to support the defence, but talent-wise no United midfielder can stack up to TFC's.

3. Tactical subs

One of the benefits of being a last-place team is none of your players participate in the All-Star Game. For TFC, all three of Giovinco, Bradley, and Jozy Altidore played about a half against Real Madrid on Wednesday, while D.C. had the week off completely. It's not much, playing half of a meaningless friendly, but there was still travel involved for TFC's stars.

Altidore has had a heavy workload recently, and doesn't have quite the same engine as Bradley. He might need to come off around the 60th minute, especially if he's looking tired. Tosaint Ricketts and Armando Cooper may be called upon to inject life into the game midway through the second half.