D.C. United looks to turn season around against Toronto FC

Is D.C. United about to turnaround its horrendous season? The signs are out there. Photo: Dwayne De Rosario (AP)

WASHINGTON, June 13, 2013 — Is D.C. United about to turnaround its horrendous season?

The signs are out there.

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The D.C. outfit, which has not won a league match in 12 games, found its winning ways in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night, downing the Philadelphia Union 3-1 on a Dwayne De Rosario hat trick at the Maryland SoccerPlex. There was a lot to celebrate. United finally had a win and notched three goals from its star player. Can the club now transfer this form to league play?

If United is to salvage its season, it must begin on Saturday night when the club hosts Toronto F.C (1-7-5, 8 points), the second-worst team in the league. United is scoreless in 294 minutes in the league and must attack the Toronto goal. With a win, United could finally rise off the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Both teams will be looking for only their second wins of the season. If United (1-10-3, 5 pts) can’t beat the struggling Canadian club at home, then some jobs in the United front office could seriously be in jeopardy.

“We’re healthy, finally, and it’s a good vibe right now,” said coach Ben Olsen after the Philly win. “There’s a silent confidence about us that we can get out of this thing and now’s the time…but we need to start performing in this way in the regular season, and that starts this weekend against Toronto.”

The fact that De Rosario got three goals in the mid-week cup game is truly heartening to United fans. United’s highest paid player has been struck in a scoring drought this season with just one league goal to his name.

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“The guy’s a winner,” said Olsen concerning De Rosario. “He’s been through a lot, I’ve been through a lot, and he responded tonight the way you expect a guy like Dwayne to respond.”

De Rosario will be going up against his old club on Saturday night. The Canadian national team star spent two fulls season at Toronto scoring a stunning 15 goals in 2010. Olsen and De Rosario, who was the league MVP in 2011, have not always seen eye-to-eye this season and the D.C. coach has benched the player for a number of games.

“I just want the best, and I don’t settle for anything less,” De Rosario said. “And sometimes, you’re going to bump heads when things aren’t going your way. I have a strong personality. Like I said, I’m passionate, and he [Ben Olsen] has a strong personality too, so we’re going to bump heads.”

There will also be some familiar faces returning to RFK for the Toronto game. Toronto’s new general manager is Kevin Payne who guided United to numerous trophies from 1996 until last year in the GM role.

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Toronto is also coached by former United defender Ryan Nelsen, who played at the club from 2001-2005. The New Zealander will get a warm welcome from the United faithful. In his days at D.C. he was a rugged defender who captained United to win the 2004 MLS Cup, the last of the club’s four championships.

Nelsen went onto a successful career in England, playing with Blackburn Rovers, Tottenham Hotspur and Queens Park Rangers, before taking on the Toronto coaching job in March.

Team Note — United will now play the New England Revolution, 4-2 winners over the New York Red Bulls, in the quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on June 26, 7 p.m. at the Maryland SoccerPlex.  

John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times for 20 years. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996.

Follow John on Twitter at @Johnahaydon or email jhaydon@washingtontimes.com

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John Haydon

John Haydon has covered soccer for The Washington Times for two decades. He has reported on international soccer events in Germany, South Korea and Spain. John hails from Birmingham, England and has lived in the Washington D.C. region for over twenty years.  

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