Julius James burned his former team by scoring late in the second half to lead D.C. United past Toronto FC, 1-0, on Saturday to dent TFC’s playoff aspirations.
James, a former TFC defender, gathered a loose ball in the penalty area following a free kick before turning and driving a left-footer past goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
The result keeps Toronto four points behind San Jose and Seattle for the final payoff spot with just six games left. Four of those fixtures are on the road; three come against teams with losing records.
D.C.’s continue their all-time domination of TFC, stretching their record over the Reds to 6-2-1. It was D.C. interim coach Ben Olsen’s second win in six games since taking over from Curt Onalfo.
Toronto have now been shut out in five of their last six games.
After a scoreless draw on Wednesday in Chicago, Toronto captain Dwayne De Rosario said he’d treat every game like a playoff game. He showed that sense of urgency from the start, nearly opening the scoring in the 4th minute when he drove through five players before firing a shot off the goalpost.
That signaled the start of an open game with both teams trading chances the rest of the way.
Despite having little to play for, United, led by the strike duo of Pablo Hernandez and Danny Allsopp, performed well up front and gave Toronto problems all afternoon.
In the 34th minute, Hernandez nearly caught TFC napping on a corner. Frei got a hand on the effort before defender Nana Attakora headed clear. Allsopp then came onto it but sent a blast over the goal.
Four minutes later, Allsopp and Hernandez combined on a give-and-go before Allsopp watched his shot from close range saved by Frei.
United’s best chance to break the deadlock came courtesy of Santino Quaranta two minutes into the second half. He came in alone with Andy Najar on Frei but couldn’t direct Najar’s serve into an open goal.
Toronto’s offense benefited from the return of Maicon Santos to the starting lineup.
The Brazilian helped open up the field, and in the 36th minute he nearly scored after collecting a long, probing pass from De Rosario. However, his left-footed drive went just over the crossbar.
TFC had a couple of chances late in the second half, but they couldn’t beat Troy Perkins and left the field to a smattering off boos from the dejected crowd of 20,395.
D.C. United 1, at Toronto FC 0
D.C. United (5-16-3)
Toronto FC (7-10-7)
DC -- Julius James 1 (unassisted) 81
TOR -- Julian de Guzman (caution; Reckless Tackle) 53
D.C. United -- Troy Perkins, Jordan Graye, Dejan Jakovic, Julius James, Jed Zayner, Santino Quaranta, Kurt Morsink, Andy Najar (Carey Talley 89), Stephen King, Danny Allsopp, Pablo Hernandez (Branko Boskovic 72).
Substitutes Not Used: Devon McTavish, Jaime Moreno, Clyde Simms, Chase Harrison.
Toronto FC -- Stefan Frei, Raivis Hscanovics (Nick LaBrocca 46), Nana Attakora, Adrian Cann, Nick Garcia, Dwayne De Rosario, Julian de Guzman, Mista, Dan Gargan, Martin Saric (Joseph Nane 62), Maicon Santos (O'Brian White 69).
Substitutes Not Used: Ty Harden, Jacob Peterson, Jon Conway, Doneil Henry.
Referee: Michael Kennedy
Referee's Assistants: -Paul Scott; Chris Strickland
4th Official: Geoff Gamble
Time of Game: 1:52
CLICK HERE to see Julius' goal.