United earns valuable point after 0-0 draw in Toronto

Toronto, Ontario, June 27, 2015 – D.C. United toughed out a valuable point in difficult conditions this afternoon as they drew with Toronto FC 0-0 at BMO Field in front of a soggy partisan crowd. Heavy rains combined with a four game in ten day road journey for the Black-and-Red further complicated matters. However, United displayed their usual defensive shape and discipline and kept the home side to precious few opportunities thanks in part to a number of saves from Bill Hamid in goal.

The last time D.C. United (10-5-5, 35 points) faced Toronto FC (7-6-2, 23 points) they were undone by diminutive Italian striker Sebastian Giovinco who seemingly beat United by himself as he scored both goals in the 2-1 win at RFK earlier this month that snapped United’s 20-game unbeaten run at East Capitol Street. Today however Giovinco was not his normal MVP self as he seemed a touch off all game long, perhaps affected by the windy and rainy conditions.

Although United gave up most of the possession in the match, they created more chances to take the lead as a Luis Silva drive from 25-yards was parried away by TFC goalkeeper Chris Konopka midway through the first half. United probably should have taken the lead on the ensuing corner kick when Nick DeLeon flashed wide open from 4 yards out in front of goal but his header went inexplicably wide of the goal.

Hamid was forced into a number of saves throughout the match but none were what you would consider terribly dangerous. In fact, Hamid has become so adept in his positioning, a perfect shot is the only thing that can beat him nowadays as he posted a second consecutive shutout. With United embarked in the middle of a the aforementioned crush of matches, head coach Ben Olsen once again shifted his lineup and put out what could be considered his best lineup considering the injury situations with Sean Franklin (tendinitis) and Chris Pontius (hamstring).

Even with the almost game-by-game changes enforced by the schedule, United continued to shine defensively and played toe-to-toe with arguably the best attack in the Eastern Conference with TFC. Steve Birnbaum had a particularly outstanding match, bouncing back from a series of matches since his ankle injury in April that have been less than stellar for the second year man. Taylor Kemp and Chris Korb aslo came back into the lineup and played well as both players were instrumental in breaking up more than a few dangerous chances.

United came into the match with a 10-point lead over the New England Revolution and a 12-point lead over TFC, though the hosts do have five games in hand. TFC’s job got a bit more difficult after today’s draw still leaving them 12 points clear. TFC will now have to play their next month’s worth of matches minus U.S. stars Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore and they will also be without Canadian players Ashtone Morgan and Jonathan Osorio.

As for United, they will move on to their fifth-round U.S. Open Cup tie with the Philadelphia Union on Tuesday night and then jetting off to Seattle to take on the Sounders on Friday night. Olsen will undoubtedly shift the lineup heavily once more for the Open Cup match with a more-than-decent chance of taking a rare win in Seattle as the hosts will be missing a slew of players including their two most dangerous ones in Clint Dempsey (Gold Cup) and Obefemi Martins (abductor strain).

 

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