Exactly halfway through the 2014 season D.C. United is still in first place and acting like it belongs. A week removed from a 1-0 home to loss to Seattle, United responded with an impressive 2-1 win on the road against Toronto FC.
It could be argued United played a more complete game in its loss to the Sounders, but against Toronto the Black and Red demonstrated the resolve to recover from a lackluster first half and collect all three points in the standings. United has not lost consecutive games since the opening two weeks of the season.
In the opening 45 minutes Toronto FC had the better of play. The Reds were energized by the return of Michael Bradley from the World Cup and their crowded midfield made it difficult for United to sustain meaningful possession. There were also some dicey moments on defense after sloppy turnovers, but United made it to halftime with a scoreless draw.
“We played much better against Seattle, ironically, sometimes that is how it goes. I thought their game plan was good in the first half, we had some heavy legs and II thought they wanted to defend and counter which worked very well for them. We were poor with the ball and played right into it, second half we changed our mentality a bit and made it into a little bit more of a fight and changed the game that way. It wasn’t our best night but this team has real metal, real character, and that sees us through games.”
- It just fit that Nick DeLeon and Perry Kitchen scored for United. It is true that United’s surge to the top of the Eastern Conference has been boosted by the off season addition of seven MLS veterans. The veteran additions to United have joined an exciting young corps that is growing. DeLeon and Kitcken are United draft picks and have been developed by the club. DeLeon had one of his best games of the season and his goal was a combination of determination and skill. Kitchen does so much work that often goes unnoticed; he deserved the joy of the game-winner.
- All the right moves. Head coach Ben Olsen’s substitutions made a difference. The introduction Lewis Neal helped United maintain possession and then his skill on set pieces came through with his assist on the corner kick that led to Kitchen’s goal. Conor Doyle and Collin Martin were brought on late and were effective in helping United fend off Toronto’s desperate efforts. Oh and it helps to have Bill Hamid in goal as the last line of defense.