MLS: D.C. United surging, while Toronto FC amid internal strife


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Toronto FC will try to take some of the mounting pressure off manager Bob Bradley when they host D.C. United on Saturday night.

Some of that pressure has come from within for Toronto FC (2-5-7, 13 points). Winger Federico Bernardeschi made headlines after last weekend’s 1-0 loss at Austin FC by with a quote that was generally interpreted as a criticism of Bradley.

“We need to (have) a little bit more tactics,” Bernardeschi told reporters. “We need an idea of how we play because this is the real problem for me. It’s impossible to play like this when we play without (an) idea. This is the big problem for me.”

As a result of his remarks, the Italian veteran who leads the team with three goals, and also has three assists, won’t play against D.C. United in what Bradley termed a coach’s decision.

“Coach’s decision … Fede will not be in the squad for this game. A lot going on this week, a lot of internal discussions,” Bradley said. “So in terms of preparing for this match, the decision was made that way.”

Even with Bernardeschi involved, the Reds have struggled on the attack, failing to score in their last four matches. In total, they’ve gone 404 league minutes since C.J. Sapong scored in a 1-0 home win over New York City FC.

D.C. United (5-5-4, 19 points) has become harder to break down after switching to a three center-back setup.

Manager Wayne Rooney has sent out either a 3-4-3 or a 3-5-2 in the last six games. The Black-and-Red have only conceded a goal four times in that stretch and lost only once, after a miserable 2022 campaign where they finished last in the league in points earned (27) and goals conceded (71).

“I think with the change of formation it’s suiting us, it’s suiting our defensive players and certainly the center backs to have the three in there,” said Rooney, who mentioned injuries at the wingback position as a contributing factor for the change. “Because we haven’t had the stability of the wingbacks, or the fullbacks if you like.”

Christian Benteke scored his team-leading sixth goal in last Saturday’s 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy. And D.C. is getting healthier, with winger Taxi Fountas and center back Steve Birnbaum among those removed from the team’s availability report.

–Field Level Media


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