Soehn rested Emilio and Olsen, who were both out with niggling ankle and hamstring strains respectively and surprisingly sat out Moreno for the first half and started Brian Carroll on the right side of midfield. Bobby Boswell also remained on the bench, but the absences made no difference as DC took the early advantage and continued to play bulletproof defense.
Toronto did start off the match with a flurry of attacks and nearly saved themselves the futility record with a wicked long shot, but Perkins made a sparkling save in the third minute to push the ball wide of the net.
Three minutes later, another furious assault on United’s nets was scrambled away by the heroic Perkins thrashing away two dangerous chances. First he punched away a venomous side volley by former Terp Maurice Edu, and then bearded the beast Dichio in his lair with an epic collision to pry loose the rebound.
Immediately upon recovering his senses and the obligatory check for broken bones, Perkins created United’s goal with his distribution. After waving DC’s players up field, he belted the ball up the field where Addlery skimmed the ball on to a suspiciously offside Fred roaring in behind the lumbering Braz. As the Fred neared the goal from a difficult angle he clipped a shot to the far post that hit Toronto keeper Stamatopulous in the shin, but bounced into the net for the only goal of the match in the 8th minute.
Toronto’s best chance to equalize came in the 31st minute when Pozniak and Dichio hooked up on a nice play near the box that sprung Edu past Carroll and in on goal chasing a scoop pass from Dichio, but Perkins again saved the day. Charging way out of his net a bit recklessly perhaps, Perkins certainly forced a mortal hesitation by the rookie Edu and was able to smother the chance as Edu allowed the ball to bounce out of his reach.
United brought in Moreno and Kpene in the second half to attempt to kill off the game and while United was able to control the ball for the most part, they did succumb to being on the wrong end of some vicious fouling as Toronto became increasingly more frustrated. One such fouling duel ended up with another golden opportunity on goal that Toronto squandered.
First, Dunivant had tagged Brian Carroll unmercifully and skated away scot free, so Carroll returned the favor with a crunching studs up message on a 50-50 ball. Unfortunately, the Canadian referee failed to note the justice served by the maneuver and carded Carroll a bit harshly given the way the game had been called up to that point.
Still, it set up a freekick for Toronto in a dangerous spot along the left side. Robinson stepped up and curled a perfect kick right to Dichio towering over Burch, but the Toronto giant couldn’t keep the header down and saw Toronto’s hopes of a goal sail into the stands.
Inevitably given the refereeing by Mr. Magoo, the last 30 minutes devolved into a bit of a foul fest that might well spark some hard feelings in future matchups between these two sides. Robinson in particular got away with a vicious kick to Gomez’ head and Braz simply beat up on any United player who came within reach of his ham hands, as he was largely unable to run anyone down. Still, it was nice to see United stand up to some physical pressure and not crumble as has been known to happen in the past.
Overall, it was a solid win for United as they hardly played their best and were out shot 12 to 5, with only two shots on goal to Toronto’s 8, but Perkins played his best game of the season and Fred was the only player truly precise enough in front of the net.
With the shutout, United has now only allowed a penalty kick goal by Angel in their last five MLS matches. The fifteen points in their past five matches has put them in sole possession of second place in the East, three points behind NE, and six points ahead of New York in third, with two games in hand on each team.
DC United plays on the road in Dallas next weekend, and in LA against Chivas the Thursday after that before returning to RFK to host the Revolution on Sunday Sept 9th at 3PM.