MLS: Toronto FC Handed Second Consecutive Road Loss by DC United

Tim YuSenior Analyst IApril 6, 2008

Talk about two different cities, moving in two different directions.

With the Toronto Maple Leafs drowning in self-pity and the Washington Capitals roaring back into the play off picture for the first time in four years, D.C. United followed in the footsteps of their hockey brethren with a solid 4-1 blowout victory over Toronto FC in front of 20,000 United supporters.  

Luciano Emilio and Santino Quaranta led a sure fire D.C. attack that soared ahead with two quick goals with only five minutes gone in the match.

Toronto goalkeeper Greg Sutton was left to fend for himself as the TFC defence came out flat-footed for most of the match against the CONCACAF Champions Cup contenders.

Things didn't get much easier for John Carver's men as Kevin Harmse was given a straight red for a questionable challenge against United's Gonzalo Peralta. Harmse, a Canadian born player recently acquired from the LA Galaxy, has always had a reputation for going recklessly into challenges and he demonstrated that once again as he was sent off for an early bath in the 22nd minute.

Without the extra man, Toronto FC found themselves second best for much of the night as they couldn't close down efficiently as a unit against an exuberant D.C. United side.

United's patient build-up play often frustrated TFC and it led to several occasions where Greg Sutton had to be called into action with some world-class saves.

United skipper Marcelo Gallardo and Luciano Emilio were two particular players that took control of the match with their commanding creativity and pace against a wayward Toronto squad.

The constant through balls from Gallardo and Fred only added to the uncertainty in the TFC defense as the central partnership of Marco Velez and Tyrone Marshall looked shaky at best.

The scoreline could have ended up much worse had it not been for some stellar goalkeeping from the Canadian veteran.

United's designated player, Marcelo Gallardo, finished off Toronto's hopes in the second half after tapping in a brilliant pass from Quaranta at the six-yard box.

Major League Soccer's all-time leading scorer added even more salt to Toronto's wounds after banging in a fourth goal past the MLS minnows.

As if it were any consolation, Maurice Edu headed in TFC's first goal of the season at the 88th minute after club captain Jimmy Brennan delivered a quality ball into the United's penalty area.

Needless to say, it wasn't the type of performance that Toronto FC supporters were expecting out of their side after their exciting new signing in former PSG and Newcastle man Laurent Robert.

However, even the presence of the 32-year-old couldn't change TFC's fortunes, as they never had comfortable possession of the ball—even in their build up play.

D.C.'s unified sense of closing down caused headaches for a team that had trouble distributing the ball. The loss of Harmse in the midfield didn't do Toronto any favors and their fitness was tested heavily as they played nearly 70 minutes, with only 10 men.

One particular bright spot for TFC was Robert's ability from set pieces and crossing down the left flank.

The former Derby man doesn't seem to have lost his Premier League touch despite rarely featuring in Paul Jewell's squad during their battle against relegation. Even while playing without full match fitness, Robert looked sharp with his delivery and created some of the few chances that TFC managed to muster on the other half of the pitch. 

Even with the addition of Robert, Mo Johnston knows that he'll need to do a little more as far as acquisitions are concerned. The addition of SuperDraft pickup Julius James will bolster a fragile defense that lacks cohesiveness with Velez and Marshall manning the middle.

The likes of Gallardo, Fred, Emilio, Moreno, Quaranta and Niell all had Toronto's defense mesmerized as they demonstrated their quality with their off-the-ball movements and creativity—two qualities that Carver and Johnston are craving for their hard-working squad, that at times lacks that extra bit of flair or technical ability.

Perhaps taking a chance in the South American market for talent might be Johnston's best option in terms of improving the quality of the overall team.

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