TORONTO CANADA - SEPTEMBER 28: D.C. United celebrates Julius James goal during a MLS game against Toronto FC at BMO Field September 11 2010 in Toronto Ontario Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
So what if this was DC United's first road victory since June? So what if it's the first time they've scored on the road since July? The team deserved their result tonight against a Toronto FC side that is fighting to remain in playoff contention.
Not that they looked like. TFC didn't look like the better side at any point in this match, despite playing at home. How this is the same team that defeated Cruz Azul less than a month ago I don't understand.
But for once, United took advantage. After failing to capitalize on 80 minutes worth of chances (an entire season's worth of chances really), an unlikely hero cooly pounded the ball into the net.
Julius James continues to have a very quietly excellent season for United. Even before the goal, James was one of our best two or three players on the field. He won a great many headers, and played a big role in rendering Dwayne De Rosario and Maicon Santos inept. This week it was our opponents who had zero shots on goal until the dying minutes of the match. And there are several players on our team who coule learn a lot from Julius James's goal. Rather than shooting for maximum power and velocity, James just calmly hit the ball at the net to where the Stefan Frei wasn't. It really isn't that hard, people.
Paired with James at center back was Dejan Jakovic. It's rare that these two have been on the field at the same time, but when they have, we've generally done really well. This match also saw a bit of redemption for Troy Perkins, who earned just his second win, but his third shutout of the season. Perkins wasn't tested often, but he came up big when called upon, and seemingly gained in confidence as the match unfolded.
Earning the assist on United's lone goal was Danny Allsopp, who put in a lot of hard work today, but came up short on an early chance to put the team in front. Also, I love how Andy Najar plays when United has a lead. He was moved to forward and he immediately played even more aggressive and even more physical. Najar had a couple of poor crosses and unfortunate decisions in the final third, but his work rate can never be questioned.
United's central midfield appeared to be their weakness today, as neither Stephen King or Kurt Morsink had much positive impact on the game. King seems to have a total lack of confidence, as he just refuses to shoot the ball regardless of his position on the field. Morsink, on the other hand, had one of our few shots on target, but gave up far too many chances in our defensive end.
This match was far from pretty for either team. In fact, the first 75 minutes were fairly boring. But D.C. United did what they had to do to accomplish their goals. They scored in order to delay them breaking the all-time MLS shutouts record for at least another week, and to get them closer to avoiding the all-time MLS record for fewest goals in a season. And they won, so to set them on track for not breaking the record for fewest points in an MLS season.
Small victories are what we're looking for the rest of the way. We got one today.