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Up North, D.C. Can't Shake Its Cold Snap

Toronto FC 1, United 0

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 22, 2008; Page E01

TORONTO, May 21 -- Another bumbling defensive act, another shooting misadventure and, inevitably, another loss.

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D.C. United fell behind after just seven minutes on a ghastly error by the usually reliable Devon McTavish, butchered each and every opportunity to pull even and dropped a 1-0 result to Toronto FC on a cold, rainy Wednesday night for its fourth consecutive loss.

"It just seems it's going to be one of those years," team captain Jaime Moreno said. "We've got to fight against everything."

United (2-7) has not won on the road since last Sept. 1 at Dallas, a stretch of 12 matches in all competitions. The club is 0-5 with one goal scored in MLS away games this year.

With the losses mounting, confidence dipping and a difficult stretch against top opponents approaching, United almost certainly will have to beat Toronto on Saturday night at RFK Stadium in their third and final meeting this year to have any hope of resurrecting its season.

"When you are going through rough stretches, one mistake or two mistakes tend to cost you, and that was a bad mistake," United Coach Tom Soehn said of McTavish's folly that resulted in Danny Dichio's goal.

An announced crowd of 19,791 at BMO Field watched Toronto (4-2-2) extend its unbeaten streak to six and avenge a 4-1 loss to United last month in Washington.

Soehn was able to field his strongest lineup in weeks with the return of three starters -- McTavish, Gonzalo Peralta and Fred -- and also gave slumping striker Luciano Emilio his starting job back after using him as a reserve last weekend.

Before missing four games with a sprained foot, McTavish had played primarily on the right side of midfield, but on this night, Soehn inserted him into central defense, a position in which McTavish excelled last year.

However, it does not seem to matter who is on the field these days because devastating mistakes continue to afflict the club.

On the goal sequence, McTavish attempted to touch the ball back to goalkeeper Zach Wells but struck it so meekly, he had to scramble to prevent Dichio from reaching it first. The odds were against McTavish: At 6 feet 3, 209 pounds and with a shaved head, Dichio is one of the most imposing players in the league.

McTavish, conceding three inches and 39 pounds, tried to wrestle him away from the ball, but as Dichio was falling, the Toronto forward swept the ball past Wells and watched it roll gently and unobstructed into the far corner for his second goal of the year. If the ball had not reached the target, referee Alex Prus might have been justified in awarding a penalty kick.

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