D.C. United has made considerable strides under first-year coach Hernán Losada, performing with flash and fervor to reestablish its place in MLS. The one area slow to mature, though, was the scoring.

Through a third of the season, opportunities were aplenty and goals scarce. But on a bright Saturday at Audi Field, United busted out of its scoring doldrums, tallying three times in the first 21 minutes and setting a club record for goals in a 7-1 romp over free-falling Toronto FC.

United fell one goal short of matching the league record, set by the Los Angeles Galaxy in an 8-1 rout of Dallas in 1998. It also was the first time in MLS history — spanning 6,308 regular season games — that there were seven different goal scorers.

“It just shows that sometimes you can be in form and things won’t go your way,” captain Paul Arriola said, “but today obviously everything went our way.”

Before Saturday, United had scored multiple goals in two matches this season, gone scoreless four times and managed 10 goals overall.

“I saw what we asked for and trained for, and that was to play dominant soccer from the very first [moment] of every home game,” Losada said. “When you score so quickly, not only one, not only two but three goals, especially after we create so much, it’s a relief. It’s a lot of weight off your shoulders, and the whole team starts to get confidence.”

The first strike came after 73 seconds, scored by Kevin Paredes, an 18-year-old homegrown wing from South Riding who recorded his first career goal. Nigel Robertha followed with a breakaway goal, then an own goal capped United’s most productive short stretch in almost two years.

Arriola, Ola Kamara, Yamil Asad and Griffin Yow scored in a late 19-minute burst as United (5-6-1) broke its single-game scoring mark of six, accomplished four times. The most goals by United in any competition was eight, done twice in non-league matches.

United rebounded from its late collapse at New York City FC on Sunday — two conceded goals in the waning moments — and headed into a two-week break on a high note in front of 14,000 fans.

“Coming off the NYCFC game, we were devastated,” Paredes said. “This game, we came with anger and motivation. … The rush of goals was unreal. All the hard work and preparation showed.”

Andy Najar, a 2010 homegrown player in his second stint with United, continued to dazzle in his return from years of injuries. He did not score but was the catalyst of the rejuvenated attack, taking on defenders and using blinding footwork to assist on the first and fourth goals and creating havoc that led to the third.

The match marked Chris Armas’s first visit to Washington since he was the top choice to succeed Ben Olsen as D.C.’s coach last winter. After negotiations stalled, Armas accepted Toronto’s offer and United discovered Losada, an Argentine, in the Belgian league.

Things have not gone well for Armas. Toronto (1-8-2) extended streaks of seven (winless), six (defeats) and five (multiple goals conceded). Striker Jozy Altidore has been inactive because of disagreements with Armas, and midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo, the 2020 league MVP, has been slowed by a thigh injury.

Toronto finished with 10 players after Eriq Zavaleta received his second yellow card in the 78th minute.

Just over a minute had elapsed when Najar and Julian Gressel collaborated on the right side. Najar crossed. Adrien Pérez, making a near-post run, allowed the ball to pass. On the back side, Paredes was waiting to sting an eight-yard one-timer into the top near corner for his first goal in 24 league appearances since he turned pro in January 2020.

The next goal came in the eighth minute. Júnior Moreno, in his first game since he returned from Copa América with the Venezuelan national team, threaded a through ball to Robertha for a breakaway and his second goal in as many matches.

Thirteen minutes later, Najar worked his magic again on the right side, surging on the right side and cutting back before crossing to Russell Canouse. Canouse’s one-timer caromed off Toronto’s Omar Gonzalez and Ralph Priso before slipping into the right corner for an own goal.

Toronto was next to strike, about six minutes before intermission. Michael Bradley intercepted Brendan Hines-Ike’s pass from deep in D.C.’s end and chipped to Ayo Akinola for an eight-yard shot past Bill Hamid.

Losada said his halftime message was: “Guys, no mistakes, take it seriously, don’t start to be arrogant, don’t start to do things you never did before and go for the fourth one. And we score the fourth one and we go for the fifth one because that’s the way we want to play.”

After Toronto’s pressure faded, United broke it wide open. Najar set up Arriola, Kamara scored on a breakaway, Asad headed in Arriola’s cross, and Yow, 18, converted from a tight angle.

“It was only one game,” Arriola said. “It wasn’t the final of the MLS Cup. This was just a game at home we felt we should’ve won. We would take the three points if it had been a scrappy game and won, 1-0, on an own goal.”

Notes: Arriola and defender Donovan Pines will report to the U.S. national team’s Gold Cup training camp Monday. ...

Jeremy Garay, an 18-year-old midfielder from United’s academy who had planned to attend North Carolina State, signed a homegrown contract, effective in 2022. He will continue playing for second-division Loudoun United this season. ...

Puebla (Mexico), Alajuelense (Costa Rica) and Alianza (El Salvador) will join United for the first Capital Cup, starting Wednesday at Audi Field. Steven Birnbaum, sidelined all season with an ankle injury, is expected to play July 11, and Edison Flores (hamstring) is slated to return July 14. United will return to league play July 17 at Philadelphia. ...

Jaime Moreno, D.C.’s all-time scoring leader, and Kevin Payne, a former executive who oversaw United’s early championships, were honored at halftime for their election to the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

More from The Post: