Let’s face it folks, it ain’t pretty.
Hamdi Salihi’s 88th minute goal of off a pair of dreadful mistakes from Toronto FC was all that was required in D.C. United’s 1-0 win this afternoon in Toronto, Canada. The win for United is their fourth in five matches since the season-ending injury to team captain Dwayne De Rosario and further solidifies their playoff position. United jumped, albeit briefly, into second place with the win but was pegged back down to third place with Chicago’s surprising 2-0 win at Red Bull this afternoon. Red Bull is now in fourth place trailing United by a point and Chicago by three points. All three teams have only two matches remaining in the season.
The game’s only goal came about in the 88th minute when former Maryland midfielder Jeremy Hall made a hash of a routine midfield clearance that set Maicon Santos down the right sideline. The Brazilian forged a bit of space before launching a left-footed shot on goal. United teammates Branko Boskovic and Chris Pontius were both furious with Santos as they were positioning themselves in front of goal but as the play continued, Kocic somehow managed to spill the admittedly easy save right into the path of Salihi who poked the ball into the empty net to send United to an improbable if not undeserved win.
With the win in their back pocket, United will now playing the role of cheerleader when Sporting Kansas City visits Columbus on Sunday afternoon. A loss by Columbus would virtually guarantee United their first playoff berth since 2007. United currently holds a six-point lead over the Crew and has a big lead in both tie-breaking procedures (49 goals scored to the Crew’s 39 and United is +9 on goal differential while the Crew are at 0) that would come up if United and Columbus were to end up tied on points at the end of the season.
However, United could make it all a moot point with a head-to-head win over Columbus in their next league match on October 20th. By that time, United will know exactly what they will need to advance to the postseason.