D.C. United ends its slide with a 1-1 draw against Toronto.

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY STEVEN GOFF steven.goff@wash­post.com

Two mis­sions were play­ing out at RFK Sta­dium on Satur­day night, both in­tended to sal­vage a very bad year.

On the field, D.C. United went to ex­haus­tive lengths while short­handed the en­tire sec­ond half to earn a 1-1 draw with MLS-best Toronto FC and snap a six-game los­ing streak be­fore a crowd of 16,444.

Off the field, a se­ries of ros­ter moves were be­gin­ning to take shape be­fore Wed­nes­day’s trade and trans­fer dead­line.

On Fri­day, United (5-14-4) ac­quired Bo­li­vian for­ward Bruno Mi­randa, who, at age 19, is pegged to con­trib­ute next year.

Mean­while, the club is on the verge of adding Hun­gar­ian national team mid­fielder Zoltan Stieber from Kais­er­slautern, a Ger­man sec­ond-flight club. With fi­nan­cial terms all but set — the trans­fer fee and salary are slated to ex­ceed $1 mil­lion apiece — Stieber ar­rived in Wash­ing­ton on Satur­day and at­tended the match.

The big prize, though, would be two-time Chilean World Cup mem­ber Gary Medel, a defensive mid­fielder and de­fender at In­ter Mi­lan. A source close to the sit­u­a­tion said United in­creased its con­tract of­fer to $10 mil­lion over two sea­sons — an as­tound­ing amount, given its fru­gal spend­ing in re­cent years — in an ef­fort to beat Turk­ish club Be­sik­tas for his ser­vices.

It would also have to pur­chase his rights from In­ter Mi­lan, which is co-owned by United’s pri­mary in­vestor, Erick Tho­hir.

Medel, 30, was ex­pected to de­cide by Sunday night.

In case the Medel deal doesn’t hap­pen, United has kept con­tact with other tar­gets.

“There’s still a lot of things play­ing out over the next cou­ple days, both within the league and out,” Coach Ben Olsen said. “You’ll cer­tainly see a new player or two.”

Be­fore United can in­te­grate new play­ers, it had the daunt­ing task of cling­ing to a 1-0 lead with 10 men af­ter Lloyd Sam was red-carded in the 44th minute. Kofi Opare had pro­vided the lead with a sixth-minute header.

United con­ceded the equal­izer on an own goal in the 52nd minute but showed the char­ac­ter and poise to thwart Toronto (12-3-8) for what seemed like hours.

Toronto’s lineup fea­tured three U.S. national team play­ers — Michael Bradley, Jozy Alti­dore and Justin Mor­row — as well as MLS’s most dan­ger­ous at­tacker, Se­bas­tian Giovinco, and the league’s co-leader in as­sists, Vic­tor Vazquez.

Be­gin­ning a stretch of five home dates over six matches, United hummed with en­ergy and me­nace from the start. Toronto, mean­while, didn’t seem in­ter­ested.

Af­ter sev­eral gen­uine threats, D.C. de­servedly went ahead when Opare rose above a crowd in the heart of the penalty area and headed in Sam’s cor­ner kick for his first goal of the year (third ca­reer).

A shock deficit fig­ured to awaken the mighty vis­i­tors, but United con­tin­ued prob­ing in the at­tack while re­main­ing com­posed in de­fense. When trou­ble arose — a 28th-minute through ball lib­er­ated Giovinco in the box — Bill Hamid ex­tin­guished the threat.

Be­fore half­time ar­rived, United’s chal­lenge grew when Sam was sent off by ref­eree Allen Chap­man for a hard chal­lenge on Chris Mavinga in front of the D.C. bench. Aside from leav­ing his team short­handed, Sam will miss Satur­day’s home match against Real Salt Lake.

“I can’t dis­pute it too much,” he said. “Stupid to put my team in that sit­u­a­tion.”

The short­age was glar­ing af­ter in­ter­mis­sion as Toronto hoarded pos­ses­sion and, thanks to a D.C. folly, knot­ted the score.

Jared Jef­frey’s clear­ing at­tempt deep in the box struck team­mate Steve Birn­baum and squirted past Hamid. The own goal was given to Birn­baum, but Jef­frey, who had recorded an own goal at Min­nesota last week­end, was largely re­spon­si­ble.

Badly out­manned, United bunkered most of the sec­ond half and al­lowed few se­ri­ous threats. De­spite claim­ing 80 per­cent of pos­ses­sion af­ter in­ter­mis­sion, Toronto did not man­age a shot on tar­get. (The own goal doesn’t count as a shot.)

Opare and Birn­baum tight­ened the mid­dle and late sub­sti­tute Chris Odoi-At­sem, a rookie de­fender from Mary­land, did out­stand­ing work on the right side.

Amid the ad­ver­sity of a game and a sea­son, Olsen said: “It would’ve been easy for these guys not to be self­less and dis­ci­plined in the sec­ond half and throw their hands up be­cause there have been a lot of things that haven’t gone our way this year. But they didn’t.”

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