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D.C. United hunkers down to hold off Toronto FC in scoreless draw

Turns out this team can park a dang bus

D.C. United head to the top of the Eastern Conference after a 0-0 draw against Toronto FC. After an early disallowed goal, United was forced to defend deep for nearly all of the 90 minutes as TFC fired 35 shots, yet only rarely put Bill Hamid to a real test.

It was a lively start from United, who managed to test Toronto goalkeeper Quentin Westberg before the five minute mark. A long corner by Zoltan Stieber found Steven Birnbaum — who captained the team with Wayne Rooney among seven players rotated out from Ben Olsen after Sunday’s win over Sporting KC — whose header struck Quincy Amarikwa. Amarikwa turned to fire the ball into the net, but referee Drew Fischer halted the celebrations by calling the play offside.

That was pretty much it for United’s attack on the night. TFC retaliated quickly with a counterattack that forced Bill Hamid to make a tough stop after Alejandro Pozuelo played a dangerous ball to Jordan Hamilton. After long spells of possession, the home side proved that they could be threatening with the ball.

TFC nearly opened the scoring on the 33rd minute after Nick DeLeon’s initial header was blocked on the line, leading Hamilton to gain control of the rebound and somehow strike the ball up onto the crossbar. It was the closest they’d come to scoring, despite having 20 shots to United’s 2.

After the break, the home side returned to dominate and force United into their own half. Olsen attempted to alleviate the pressure by subbing in Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta for Amarikwa and Akeem Ward, who made his MLS debut, but United still couldn’t really create much of anything.

It wasn’t until the 70th minute that the Black-and-Red began to break free and reach their opponent’s half. However, players struggled to finish off the moves due to fatigue or a lack of support.

The home side continue to pressure United throughout the 90 minutes, relentless in their ability to reach their opponent’s 6 yard box. However, despite finishing the game with 35 shot attempts, they could rarely make Hamid do much work. United’s goalkeeper finished with 13 saves, yet rarely had to do much more than catch efforts that went right at him.

TFC created one last look deep in stoppage time. Pozuelo drove from deep, and with no one stepping up, he clipped a pass into the box for substitute Terrence Boyd. Boyd, the former USMNT striker, tried to flick the ball past Hamid, but was denied as Hamid got down quickly to his right.

The 0-0 tie enables United to reach the top of the Eastern Conference, taking them up to 24 points after 13 games played. They won’t have much time to rest, as they travel to Texas for a Saturday night game against the Houston Dynamo.

Box Score

MLS Regular Season (Game 13)
Toronto FC 0
D.C. United 0

TFC (352): Quentin Westberg; Eriq Zavaleta (Jay Chapman 72), Drew Moor, Chris Mavinga; Auro, Marky Delgado, Michael Bradley (C), Jonathan Osorio (Terrence Boyd 80), Nick DeLeon (Justin Morrow 46); Alejandro Pozuelo, Jordan Hamilton

DCU (532): Bill Hamid; Ulises Segura, Frederic Brillant, Jalen Robinson, Steven Birnbaum (C), Akeem Ward (Luciano Acosta 49); Chris Durkin, Russell Canouse, Chris McCann (Paul Arriola 62); Zoltan Stieber, Quincy Amarikwa (Wayne Rooney 48)

TFC - Morrow 82
DCU - Segura 61