D.C. United's four game July road trip came to a dreadful end on Saturday night, as the Black-and-Red were thoroughly outclassed in a 4-1 defeat to Toronto FC. Sebastian Giovinco, who had not scored a league goal since May 14th, hit United for a hat trick. United finished the road trip with just two points, and both losses were by three-goal margins.
Giovinco struck twice in the first half with goals from direct free kicks. Jared Jeffrey responded almost immediately for United after Giovinco's first goal, but TFC quickly hit back through Marco Delgado, and Giovinco's second goal of the night wrapped the result up in the 39th minute. Despite the debut of Patrick Mullins in the second half, it was always going to be Toronto who added to the goal tally in the second frame, but it wasn't until stoppage time before Italian forward volleyed home to secure the win for the Reds.
Head coach Ben Olsen was forced into two changes from the side that drew 1-1 last week with Columbus Crew SC, as a hand injury forced Bill Hamid to stay at home, while Bobby Boswell was left behind after coming down with strep throat. In stepped Travis Worra, making his first league appearance since May 20th, and Kofi Opare, who was suspended last week.
Worra was called into action early on in the game, as a sweeping move from Toronto opened up for Jordan Hamilton in the 8th minute. Benoit Cheyrou spun around a tackle from Marcelo Sarvas before finding Jay Chapman in midfield. Chapman picked out Hamilton, whose shot forced Worra to push the effort wide for a corner.
Luciano Acosta won a dangerous free kick for United at the other end in the 15th minute, as the Argentine was dragged down 25 yards out from goal. Marcelo took the honors, but his effort was headed out by the wall, and United couldn't make any more of the opportunity.
Six minutes later, and Giovinco broke a long scoring drought from a free kick. Jeffrey fouled the Italy international, giving Giovinco a look at goal from 20 yards out, shaded towards the left side of the box. Worra set his wall on that side, and took a spot on the other end of the line, but couldn't react quickly enough as Giovinco's shot curled up and over the wall, and into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead.
That lead wouldn't last long, as Jeffrey finished off a flowing move for United just three minutes later. Marcelo sprayed a ball out wide for Sean Franklin in the 24th minute, with the right back in plenty of space. His ball forward from the flank found Lloyd Sam, who flicked the ball on for Jeffrey, who had made a deep run from midfield, with his first touch. Drew Moor failed to win the ball, and a touch in the box from Jeffrey set himself up to slide a shot underneath Alex Bono to level the score.
Cheyrou fired over a minute later for the Reds, and in the 29th minute they were back on top, with Delgado notching his second goal of the season. From near midfield, Chapman played a ball on the ground up towards the box, which Hamilton dummied. Giovinco took possession, got in front of Opare, and shot past Worra. The ball pinged off the post and fell back in front of goal, where Delgado was the quickest to react, finishing underneath a lunging Franklin on the line for the 2-1 advantage.
Acosta and Sam combined in the 34th minute, only to be denied a shot by a last second tackle from Justin Morrow. A ball over the top of the defense from Acosta was chested down in the box by Sam, setting the winger up for a shooting opportunity from a tight angle. But the shot didn't come off, as Morrow slid in to block the ball away for a corner which United couldn't convert.
Jeffrey fouled Giovinco again in the 39th minute, again just outside the box, setting the stage for Giovinco's second set piece goal of the night. Shaded towards the right hand side of the box this time, Giovinco hit his free kick towards the side of the net Worra was guarding. Poor work in the wall allowed Chapman to screen United's 'keeper, however, and Worra couldn't react fast enough once the powerful shot became visible.
A last-gasp chance in the first half fell to Marcelo, as a move from United opened up a shooting lane for the midfielder. Marcelo's first touch took him around a defender, and his second was a rasping shot on target, but Bono got low in time to parry the ball wide of goal, with no Black-and-Red attackers able to make anything of the rebound.
In the 49th minute, TFC nearly added their fourth, as Worra was called into action to make another save. Tsubasa Endoh picked up a pass from Hamilton outside the top of the box on the left, and quickly cut in towards his right. The rookie from the University of Maryland found his shooting lane, but Worra was there at the near post to guide the shot wide.
A free kick at the top of the box for United allowed Taylor Kemp two cracks at goal three minutes later, but the numbers in the box from Toronto denied the left back a goal. Acosta laid the ball back for Kemp on the initial free kick, but the first shot through traffic was right at Bono. The rebound came back to Kemp, but again, his shot was blocked, this time further out from goal.
Sam's errant pass nearly gifted Giovinco his third, but the "Atomic Ant" chose poorly for once. His early shot was saved by Worra, and then cleared before Giovinco could claim the rebound. Then, moments after coming on, Mullins took advantage of a poor back pass from the Reds, racing onto the ball in behind Toront's defense and crossing into the box. Mullins picked out Sam, who opted to head meekly towards goal rather than set up an on-rushing DeLeon.
Giovinco and Endoh combined to create another opportunity for Toronto in the 69th minute, but Endoh's deflected shot from a tight angle was pushed away by Worra. Tosaint Ricketts, making his MLS debut as a substitute, fired just over in the 72nd minute, before being denied a debut goal seconds later by the woodwork as United were left trying to figure out their shape after a wave of subs a minute before.
Jozy Altidore, also entering as a substitute after a two month layoff due to a hamstring issue, had a crack at goal after United failed to clear from Ricketts' shot off the post, but the effort from the US international fizzed over the goal.
At that point, the game settled down as the final minutes ticked off, as it was clear that was there was only going to be one outcome on the night. Nick DeLeon did have a chance in the 85th minute, collecting the ball from a Mullins pass back outside the box, but the swerving shot from DeLeon was saved by Bono.
And when it finally seemed that the scoreline was finalized, Giovinco added his third in stoppage time. The Reds were able to keep the ball near United's box from an attacking move, and Mark Bloom, who had just come on as a sub, cut back on the side of the box to cross into the middle. The cross was perfectly placed for Giovinco, who volleyed home for his 11th goal of the season, in a 4-1 rout.
The Black-and-Red, currently in 7th place in the East with 22 points from 20 games, return to action next Sunday, when they host the Montreal Impact at RFK Stadium.