Washington, D.C. (SportsNetwork.com) - D.C. United will attempt to continue its strong run of form on Wednesday when the club welcomes Toronto FC to RFK Stadium.
United has won three straight in league play and is looking to make it four in order to keep pace with Sporting Kansas City at the top of the Eastern Conference - D.C. trails first-place Sporting by four points in the East table, though Kansas City has played two more matches.
At the heart of DCU's impressive streak has been Eddie Johnson, who has turned the disappointment of being left off of the United States national team's preliminary 30-man roster for the World Cup into motivation.
It is paying big dividends for D.C. United as Johnson bagged a goal and an assist in the club's 3-1 demolition of Chivas USA last time out.
"It was hard, not going to the World Cup," Johnson told DCU's official website. "It was a huge blow to me. You work two years as hard as you can, try to do all the right things, and you felt like you were a for-sure player to go ... It was devastating. Once it was over, I could put my whole focus here in D.C. and right now, in the last month, I have really been enjoying my soccer."
D.C. will now come up against a third-place Toronto side that is reeling following a disappointing home loss to Sporting.
The Reds were in front through Jackson's 16th-minute strike, and they were denied a clear game-changing call shortly after when Gilberto got through on goal only to be tripped up from behind by Aurelien Collin, who escaped punishment with referee Ted Unkel allowing play to continue.
"I'm upset because I was all alone there on that play," Gilberto said after the match. "The guy took me down. It should have been a call; it should have been a card. If you look at my history in Brazil, when I play, I'm not someone that dives; I'm not someone that takes cheap fouls. I only go down when I get hit or I slip. So for me, going forward, I'm going to have to play a little harder then, and show people that I've come here to play."
Collin likely should have been issued a red card for the infraction, a decision that would have put TFC firmly in the driver's seat. But with both sides at full strength, Sporting went on to get a pair of goals to overturn the deficit and steal three points at BMO Field.
"I was wondering, 'what's going on here?'" lamented TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen after the match. "The Gilberto one seems so obvious. It's not even a question. You tell them to forget about all the decisions and the ridiculous yellow cards and try and focus on the game but they're human."
Nelsen did not only assign blame to the officiating crew, but instead opining that his side must do better defensively in order close out matches with three points in tact.
"We haven't got our balance right yet in that midfield," Nelsen added. "On those two goals, we were spectators in a time when we had to be urgent, have intensity and focus. We just hoped somebody would do their job. That was unfortunate."
07/29 16:33:31 ET