Washington,D.C. - Saturday, June 03, 2017: The Los Angeles Galaxy and DC United played to a 0-0 tie in a MLS match at RFK Stadium. (Photo courtesy of D.C. United).

United have a chance to play free against tough Toronto opponent

Less than five days after defeating Cinderella-story Christos FC 4-1 in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, D.C. United flipped the script as they travel up north to take on MLS-leading Toronto FC.

But with a two-week break from MLS play, the United have to turn their focus to climbing the ranks. D.C. currently sits in the bottom half of the standings with a losing record of (4-7-3), while Toronto FC sits comfortably at the top of both the Eastern and Western conferences with a record of (8-2-5).

“I think we have nothing to lose really,” midfielder Lloyd Sam said. “I guess no one expects us to do well, but we know that we really need the points.”

The United’s biggest issue this season has been their lack of scoring and production in the final third. The Black-and-Red have produced goals in only five of United’s 14 games this season, and the team hasn’t scored a goal in the run of play since a 3-1 victory over Atlanta United on April 30.

That being said, United did play a very promising game in their last MLS match against the LA Galaxy. Coach Ben Olsen has seen an improvement in United’s finish and expects the goals to come.

“Goals are tough no matter what game, what tournament, no matter who your opponent is,” Olsen said. “We constantly go back to, ‘Are we creating enough chances?’ Over the last month we have been doing that. We have to trust that that will start translating into goals.”

Another beacon of hope for United fans will come off the field with the opening of the secondary transfer window on July 10. Last season, United made two major acquisitions during the secondary transfer window, including Sam and forward Patrick Mullins. Sam and Mullins combined for 10 goals and nine assists for United in 2016.

This season United has suffered injuries to several starters such as forward Patrick Mullins, who is projected to be out for another five weeks following his knee surgery. With Mullins out and trouble in the final third, the injection of a fresh forward may be just what the doctor ordered.

Without naming specifics, Olsen repeated his standard answer to questions about transfers and acquisitions.

“[We are] searching everyday,” Olsen said. “We are looking to get better.”

For now, United’s focus is on the match this week against a difficult opponent. And with US men’s national team members Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore returning to the Six after contributing to the national team’s successful international play, the task has become even more challenging.

“[Toronto is] the best team in the league right now. I think it is a great challenge for us. We are looking forward to that challenge.”

With very few bets on them, the United accept the “exciting” challenge, hoping to bring three points back over the northern border.

“There is no real pressure on us,” Sam said. “Sometimes, this is when we have played the best.”

D.C. faces Toronto FC at BMO Field on Saturday, June 17 at 8 p.m.

Emily Olsen
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Emily Olsen

DC United Beat Writer at The Left Bench
Emily Olsen is the D.C. United beat reporter for The Left Bench. She has also covered basketball recruiting. Emily dreams of one day traveling the world reporting on the Olympics and World Cups. In her off time, Emily enjoys coloring outside the lines.
Emily Olsen
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About Emily Olsen 112 Articles
Emily Olsen is the D.C. United beat reporter for The Left Bench. She has also covered basketball recruiting. Emily dreams of one day traveling the world reporting on the Olympics and World Cups. In her off time, Emily enjoys coloring outside the lines.