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SOCCER

DCU, TFC aiming to reverse poor runs of form

D.C. United has not had much to celebrate this season.

The club enters the weekend riding a franchise-record 12-match winless run, rooting United to the bottom of the Eastern Conference with an MLS-worst six points from 14 matches.

D.C. did manage to claim a 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union in U.S. Open Cup play on Wednesday, a solid display that the club hopes will carry over to its league match against Toronto FC at RFK Stadium on Saturday.

The Open Cup win was a clear step in the right direction as United finally got Dwayne De Rosario to break out in front of net. His hat trick against the Union marked just the second time this season that the club has scored more than one goal in a match.

With just six league goals so far, it is safe to say that United needs to produce the goods up front if it wants to get out of its funk.

"Some goals would help," said United head coach Ben Olsen after the club's 0-0 draw with the New England Revolution last weekend. "We put our defenders under such stress because of not being able to put the ball in the net. I'm constantly harping on defense to shut out zeros and then point the finger at the offense and tonight they did that.

"The final ball has to be better. Last week, we worked on getting numbers forward and having enough guys in the box when we're getting good opportunities. We did that. We were committed. The final ball just wasn't good enough tonight and that's been haunting us."

Saturday's tilt at RFK could help United turn its season around as a win over TFC would bring the club out of the Eastern Conference cellar, which also is an indication of how poor Toronto's season has been.

The Canadian club enters the clash on an 11-match winless run, sitting just two points clear of United.

Toronto is coming off of a 1-1 draw with the Union on June 1, its only point form its last six league contests. It still was an impressive result given the fact that TFC was reduced to 10 men before halftime.

"You can't fault the players as they were absolutely fantastic," TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen said. "Two years ago, Toronto lost 6-2 at home against Philadelphia. This year we draw while playing with 10 men for 55 minutes and you want me to have a go at the players? If we had had 11 men with the way the guys played, it wouldn't have been 1-0. It would have been 2-0 or 3-0 and it would have been very comfortable."

Toronto is 1-17-9 in its last 27 MLS matches dating back to July 28 of last season, a run that Nelsen will hope to alleviate with full points at RFK.