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Toronto FC-United Preview
By JEFF BARTL
(AP) -- The last time Toronto FC competed in MLS action, it secured the worst start in league history with a defeat to D.C. United.
Following a loss forward Ryan Johnson called "embarrassing," Toronto has played well outside of league play and will look to build off that success when it visits D.C. for the rematch Saturday night.
Toronto (0-8-0) became the first team to lose its first eight games of a season following a 2-0 defeat to United on May 5 in its last MLS game. It broke the mark for the worst start in league history - Kansas City had lost seven straight to open 1999 - and moved closer to the all-time worst MLS losing streak of 12.
"We can't go on like this. I can't go on like this," Johnson said following the loss to D.C. "It's eating me up inside. I can't handle it any more. ... It's embarrassing, I think. It's embarrassing that the fans come to watch us and we're just playing so defensive."
Toronto, though, is 2-0-3 in matches against fellow MLS clubs in CONCACAF league play and the Canadian championships. Toronto beat Montreal 2-0 on May 9 to reach the Canadian tournament's two-game aggregate final against Vancouver, playing to a 1-all draw in the first leg Wednesday.
"I don't look at the standings anymore but when you do you still see zero points," forward Danny Koevermans told the league's official website. "It was fine to finally get a victory and to make it to the (Canadian) final and we're going to try to win this one, too. ... But I would like to get some points in (MLS), too. We still feel pressure, of course."
United (6-4-3), tied for second in the Eastern Conference, got a goal from Hamdi Salihi in their win over Toronto, and he also scored in a 2-0 victory over Colorado on Wednesday.
Dwayne De Rosario netted a goal for D.C., which improved to 4-0-2 in its last six at RFK Stadium. United had played their previous three games on the road, losing two with the only victory coming in Toronto.
"We are at home, with our home crowd and it's a whole different scenario," defender Robbie Russel said. "It's a set chance to cut loose, and I think we did a good job. We came ready, (the win) is huge for us, and now we have to do the same this weekend."
Salihi came off the bench against Toronto, but his developing chemistry with De Rosario may lead to coach Ben Olsen starting them together at forward for a second straight game.
"When you score is always good, it gives you confidence. I've said this before, I've always believed in myself and in my quality," Salihi said. "I work the same way every day, it doesn't matter if I score in one game or if I don't, I work the same way."
D.C. is 3-1-2 in six all-time home meetings against Toronto. De Rosario netted a hat trick in a 3-all draw Aug. 6 in the most recent meeting at RFK.
Updated May 18, 2012