D.C. United are set to begin a three game road trip tonight, when they travel north of the border to take on Toronto FC at BMO Field. There’s no rest for the weary for the Black-and-Red, with a couple of quick turnarounds following Sunday night’s win over Sporting Kansas City and then a journey to Houston in just three days time. The action is set to begin at 8 PM ET and DMV residents can watch right here on FloFC.
D.C. secured a very important three points in their last outing thanks to Paul Arriola’s superb curling effort in the 78th minute. That result was the second win on the bounce following a rocky month of April, pushing them back level on points with the Philadelphia Union at the top of the Eastern Conference. Arriola moving back into an advanced role has already paid dividends with two goals in as many appearances in May.
TFC have stumbled of late after a hot start to the season, dropping their last two games, against Atlanta United and the Union. They currently sit seven points back from D.C. in sixth place, but have played two fewer matches. The good news for Greg Vanney’s men is that they will likely have Jozy Altidore back in the starting lineup. The U.S. international made a substitute appearance in their last outing, following a hamstring injury in April, and D.C. coach Ben Olsen is fully expecting to face a stiff test with him returning to the lineup alongside playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo.
"Jozy comes back, and we expect him to start. Those two, when they play together, it’s a very good duo and an effective team up top for them."
The Black-and-Red will have their hands full in defending Pozuelo, who has transformed Toronto’s attack since arriving from Belgian outfit K.R.C. Genk in March. The 27-year-old Spaniard is level with Jozy Altidore at five goals scored and has tallied six assists through his eight appearances in 2019.
Toronto have employed a variety of formations this year, but we’ll likely see a 4-4-1-1 with Pozuelo just behind Altidore. Midfield general Michael Bradley is once again the metronome for the Reds. The 31-year-old leads the league with an average 85.8 passes completed and isn’t far off the top in percentage at 89.3. Defenders Auro (back spasms) and Laurent Ciman (ankle injury) are listed as questionable after both made second half exits on Saturday.
New D.C. signing Marquinhos Pedroso impressed in his debut on Sunday in the team’s return to a 4-2-3-1, which we will presumably see again tonight. The switch to a three-man back line proved useful while dealing with injuries and allowed Donovan Pines to break through, but he remains sidelined with a knee sprain. Furthermore, D.C. simply look more comfortable with four at the back and seem to have a much clearer picture of what to produce going forward.
Defensive midfielder Junior Moreno will miss tonight’s match, as he has flown to Venezuela following the death of his father. Chris Durkin will start alongside Russell Canouse in Moreno’s place in midfield, before he departs for the U.S. Under-20 team ahead of the World Cup in Poland. Griffin Yow is away with the U.S. Under-17s in the Concacaf Championship, and Joseph Mora is yet to return from a broken jaw.
#DCU defensive midfielder Júnior Moreno did not travel with the team for #TORvDC.— Emily Olsen (@EmilyTOlsen) May 14, 2019
He is headed back to South America for his father’s, coach Carlos Horacio Moreno, funeral.
Chris Durkin will start tomorrow, Ben Olsen confirmed.
D.C. hold the edge in the all-time series when played in Toronto with a record of 8-6-2. However, the Reds boast a 4-2-2 record in the last eight meetings at BMO Field. A Wayne Rooney free kick sealed a 1-0 win in October at Audi Field the last time the teams met.
Predicted D.C. United XI (4-2-3-1): Bill Hamid; Marquinhos Pedroso, Steve Birnbaum, Frederic Brillant; Leonardo Jara; Chris Durkin, Russell Canouse; Lucas Rodriguez, Luciano Acosta, Paul Arriola; Wayne Rooney