Competition: Major League Soccer – DC United vs. Toronto FC
Venue: RFK Stadium – Saturday, April 16 – 17:00 ET (22:00 BST)
Match Odds: DC United 11/8 – Draw 11/5 – Toronto FC 21/10
Despite the lack of points they both have so far this term, there will be expectation that both will mount serious challenges for playoff spots at the very least and so this contest is an important one.
DC will feel more confident going into the game after a 4-0 win at home against Vancouver Whitecaps last time out, which was actually their first win of the season.
Remarkably, DC were the best team in the Eastern Conference two years ago and now they are struggling to win a game. However, much of their ill-form will be down to the loss of star ‘keeper Bill Hamid, who has been ever-present while they have been successful in recent years. His long-term injury is doing little to help their chances.
So far, it’s too early to man the panic stations for United as they are only three points off top spot in the East. As long as they are in touch, they will not be too concerned and another win on Saturday would really give them a boost.
Toronto FC haven’t won since the opening day and for them, it could well be time to hit the panic button. They are yet to spark a run of form worthy of the squad strength they possess as some will argue on paper they should be Supporters’ Shield contenders.
Results will need to pick up soon as they will potentially lose all three Designated Players in the Summer through international duty as Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley are expected to join the USMNT and Sebastian Giovinco could well go to Euro 2016 with Italy.
Their defensive additions may have looked promising in the opening day win over New York Red Bulls but they have failed to keep a clean sheet since then. Worrying times for the Canadian side who will be looking forward to returning to home following this eight-game road swing to start 2016.
These two sides met twice last year, with Toronto the overall winners. The Reds won 2-1 at RFK Stadium before the teams played out a 0-0 draw at BMO Field just a few weeks later.
DC United are missing Bill Hamid (knee), Andrew Dykstra (back), Chris Korb (knee) and Collin Martin (foot) as all four are out. Charlie Horton is a doubt with concussion and Markus Halsti may not feature due to a knee sprain.
Clement Simonin is definitely out with a knee injury. Tsubasa Endoh is a doubt with a quad injury. Jozy ALtidore is expected to make his second start with Sebastian Giovinco playing just behind him in what could be a 4-4-1-1 formation for Toronto.
DC United’s last five: D/D/L/D/W
Toronto FC’s last five: W/D/L/L/D
Key Stat: DC United are the league leaders in shots per game at home this season. They are averaging 19.7 shots per game at RFK Stadium.
Key Player: Fabian Espindola – The DC frontman started only his third game of the season last weekend and inspired a brilliant 4-0 win with a brace against the Vancouver Whitecaps. His return to form provides DC with a far better platform to attack and he will be out to hurt the Toronto defence on Saturday.
DC United 1-1 Toronto FC – Both sides are seeking their second win of the season and both will have playoff aspirations this term. Saying that, they both – based on form – could equal each other out on Saturday evening. A draw seems most likely but home advantage may play a huge role in this one as Toronto’s long road stint continues.