Wayne Rooney scored his 10th goal of the season in the first half, and D.C. United moved to within a victory of clinching a playoff spot following a 1-0 victory over visiting Toronto FC on Wednesday night.
D.C. is now four points ahead of the Montreal Impact for the sixth and final Eastern Conference playoff position, and one point behind fifth-place Columbus, all of those teams having two matches remaining. United have won four straight and are unbeaten in eight games.
Toronto sank to its second straight defeat and a fifth in its past seven games, one match after it was eliminated from postseason contention with a 2-1 home loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore and Jonathan Osorio were among those left out of coach Greg Vanney's lineup because of either injury or international duty.
Rooney put United ahead in the 18th minute on his second MLS goal scored from a direct free kick this season.
Zoltan Stieber won the free kick, drawing a foul on Michael Bradley, who played only a day after making a late cameo for the U.S. national team in their draw against Peru.
With the ball roughly 35 yards from goal, Rooney stepped up and unleashed a ferocious right-footed free kick that curled around the defensive wall and inside the right post.
United were unlucky not to build upon their lead during the remainder of the game.
In the 36th minute, Yamil Asad appeared to hammer in a gorgeous volley of Luciano Acosta's diagonal feed, but Asad was deemed offside. Then in the 57th minute, Acosta saw his effort rattle the crossbar.
Rooney had a look at a second goal in the 74th minute, but goalkeeper Alex Bono intervened to deny his volley attempt.
Bono made three saves, while D.C. United goalie Bill Hamid stopped four shots.