ROME (AP) – As poor as the defense was in their match earlier this week, D.C. United figure to have an easier time against their next opponent.
United take to the road Saturday looking to hand pointless Toronto FC the worst start in MLS history.
Following consecutive victories, D.C. lost 5-3 at San Jose on Wednesday - the most goals it has allowed since a 5-1 loss to Columbus in 1999.
United (4-3-3) had given up only six goals in their previous seven matches but surrendered three 12 minutes apart in the first half to trail 3-1 at halftime.
"We got punished," said midfielder Dwayne De Rosario, who scored for the second straight game. "Teams like that, any chance you give, they are going to finish it, and we saw that tonight.
"But away from home, three goals, you think that's good enough to at least come away with a point, and we didn't. We came away with nothing, and we're disappointed about that part."
United scored at least three goals for a third straight game, but Joe Willis made just two saves as their seven-game unbeaten streak came to an end.
"We are going to look back and learn from this game," midfielder Perry Kitchen said, "but all of our focus is now on Toronto."
D.C. has posted shutout victories in its last two visits to Toronto and is 4-2-0 there all-time.
Toronto (0-7-0) has scored six goals, tied for second-fewest in the Eastern Conference, and has given up a league-high 16. It's the only team in MLS yet to earn a point - every other club has at least seven.
A defeat in this contest will make Toronto the first team ever to open a season with eight consecutive losses. It matched Kansas City's league record-worst 0-7-0 start from 1999 with a 3-2 road loss to Real Salt Lake last Saturday.
Toronto has been outscored 23-10 while going 0-8-3 since its last win in league play, 2-1 over Colorado on Sept. 17.
Last Saturday's loss was a particularly tough one. Toronto's Doneil Henry scored his first MLS goal in the 77th minute to tie the game at 2, but Salt Lake scored in stoppage time.
"It was a very painful defeat for us," defender Julian de Guzman told the team's official website. "It's not even a question if we are working hard or not, it's pretty obvious that guys are continuously giving their best, 110 percent. We just have to keep our heads up."
Toronto will try to build off a scoreless draw against Montreal in the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship semifinals on Wednesday.
It was the club's first shutout of the year. Despite failing to win and the fact that it didn't count in the league standings, the tie was considered a step in the right direction by coach Aron Winter, who admitted playing somewhat conservatively.
"It's important for the confidence for the players to have a good result," Winter said. "I think 0-0 is a good result."