After getting a much-needed first win on the season, D.C. United will face a Toronto FC side that has yet to play a home game in 2016. TFC has come through the first five games of an eight-game road trip in relatively decent shape, picking up 5 points by focusing on solid defending, hard work, and the fact that Sebastian Giovinco is a trump card no one else in the league can match.
Keys to Victory: Today's game will be preceded by a B&RU meet-up in Lot 8, and between that and a busy week outside of soccer, I didn't have time to write up a full Keys to Victory post. Here's a miniature version:
Another fast start - Our friends at Waking the Red brought this up. TFC has coughed up 4 goals in the first 30 minutes of games this season. United fans are all too familiar with that problem, and we know all about what you face when you do that: Confident opponents stacking the defense and bleeding the life out of the game. United was pretty decent for the first 12 minutes against FC Dallas, and jumped all over Vancouver last week, and they need to make sure they make it happen again.
Sever the link between Bradley and Giovinco - Michael Bradley is TFC's distributive hub. Their midfield is skilled enough, but they're overwhelmingly reliant on the USMNT star to find players in attacking spots. Giovinco, meanwhile, is the best player in MLS. Despite his small stature, he's excellent at getting himself free and into spots where he can do damage. United has to make it difficult for Bradley to find Giovinco, especially from deep positions. Most likely, this will be a full-team job.
Compress the space between the lines - Between Giovinco's freedom to roam and wide midfielders Jonathan Osorio and Marky Delgado tucking inside, there will be a lot of moving parts to deal with. The Black-and-Red are going to see a lot of players trying to get between the midfield and defense to sow confusion rather than attempting to run in behind the back four. United's ability to make this space crowded and unplayable will go a long way towards throttling the TFC attack.
Location: Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium (Washington, DC)
Kick-off time: 5:00pm Eastern
Available TV: NewsChannel 8 and regional affiliates (check the link for the over-the-air alternate channel in your area)
Available streaming: MLS Live for those outside the blackout radius
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
Our gamethread will be posted an hour before kickoff.