For D.C. United it’s a losing season filled with incentive. Instead of fading into the shadows of a last place standing, United is buoyed by a U.S. Open Cup run and influx of new players. It’s an energy United will look to use ahead of its Saturday home match against Toronto FC.
New additions like Conor Doyle and Luis Silva have brought United to life on offense. For Silva Saturday will be his first game against the team that drafted him fourth overall in 2012, but then traded him away this summer. Silva has seized the opportunity with United and had a three-game goal scoring streak until last Saturday in Montreal.
Silva did not score a goal, but was dangerous. Two of Silva’s three shots were on goal and playing below striker Dwayne De Rosario formed an effective partnership. Now the challenge for United is to add Conor Doyle to the equation. Doyle’s most comfortable position is where De Rosario starts.
Against Montreal, Doyle showed he is not afraid to play out his comfort zone. Brought on as a second half substitute, Doyle scored the equalizer in the 2-1 loss to the Impact. It was Silva with precision who found Conor Doyle slipping into the penalty area. Doyle stunned the Impact with a superb left-footed finish into the right corner of the goal.
“The first the thing I thought was, I have to finish this with my left foot,” said Doyle. "It is not what I am comfortable with, but I was confident. Playing here has given me confidence. The playing time I am getting and the support has been incredible.”
Since being signed on loan from English Championship side Derby County, Doyle has played in four matches logging 202 minutes with two goals and one assist. It’s an impressive beginning for Doyle who only played 65 minutes in two matches last season for Derby County.
Doyle’s last competitive match before joining United was back in September of 2012 against Huddersfield. After spending one season at Creighton University, Doyle played three seasons at Derby County when he was managed by Nigel Clough, the son of legendary British manager Brian Clough.
“It was my dream to play in England,” said Doyle. "It was not easy. The Championship (one level below Premier League) is probably the most competitive in the world. One week you are close to promotion and then after a bad result you are close to relegation. While it was difficult, I grew so much.”
The maturation of Doyle, who is only 21 years old, in England is showing in his confident approach with United. It is Doyle’s goal to establish himself in Major League Soccer. The game is in Doyle’s blood. Conor’s father is David Doyle, who was rookie of the year in 1988 at the height of the Major Indoor Soccer League popularity and a lethal goal scorer.
Finding Doyle playing time has to be a consideration. It is not his best position, but perhaps Doyle might be the answer on the left flank where he played last week as a substitute. Nick De Leon, still searching for his first league goal, is fully healthy and on the right flank is looking stronger by the week. Chris Pontius remains on the sideline with a hamstring injury.
Like United, Toronto is in transition. Former United president Kevin Payne is charged with trying to finally make the Reds competitive. An expansion team in 2007, Toronto has underwhelmed an amazingly supportive fans base. More patience is needed with Toronto seven points above last-place United in the Eastern Conference standings.
Last week in a 2-0 loss to Columbus, Argentine striker Maximilliano Urruti made his MLS debut. In 56 games with Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina, Urruti scored 12 goals. Urruti is only 22 years old and Toronto is hoping he will provide goals to an attack that has demonstrated commitment under first-year head coach Ryan Nielsen, but few results.