Rooney saves the day defensively, sets up DCU’s stoppage-time winner

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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The game in 200 words (or less): Luciano Acosta was the man that scored the hat trick in D.C. United’s dramatic 3-2 win over Orlando City SC at Audi Field on Sunday, but his three goals will fade to an afterthought following Wayne Rooney‘s unbelievable stoppage-time heroics (watch below). United had failed, for more than 35 minutes, to capitalize on their man advantage following Cristian Higuita’s 55th-minute red card and a disappointing draw looked inevitable, but Rooney came through with the best play in the game the season league history to not only save the day on one end of the field, but to then win it on the other end. Now, two points are all that stand in the way of United getting out of the Eastern Conference cellar. Orlando City, on the other hand, couldn’t afford to throw away anymore points if they hope to qualify for the playoffs — for the first time in franchise history — in 2018. James O’Connor’s side certainly can’t afford to throw away anymore points due to self-inflicted wounds — say, for instance, dismissals for petulant conduct. Alas, such was reality for the Lions on Sunday.

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Three Four Five moments that mattered

45’+4 — Acosta beats Bendik at the near post for 1-0 — Rooney just sees and reacts to the game faster than anyone else on the field, and it shows most clearly during seemingly innocuous moments. Take, for instance, this simple, first-time lay-off to Acosta. No second touch required, just move the ball on as quickly as possible. Goal.

55′ — Higuita sees red for throwing an elbow — Higuita didn’t need to throw an elbow at the head of an opponent, but he did anyway. Higuita didn’t need to leave his own — and his team’s — fate to be decided by referee JC Rivero, but he did anyway.

64′ — Acosta times his run and finishes at the back post — It was close — like, really close — but Acosta is probably, based upon the best angles available for viewing, onside. The ball from Yamil Asad couldn’t have been played better.

71′ — Dwyer times his run, lifts it over Ousted — Speaking of timing runs perfectly, Dwyer did just that in order to stay onside and get on the end of Rosell’s through ball. The finish over top of David Ousted was emphatic.

90’+6 — Rooney saves the day on one end, wins it on the other — Do you still think Rooney is in MLS just to collect a large paycheck without putting in much effort? Watch his game-saving tackle, followed by the pinpoint diagonal ball from 50 yards, then answer that question.

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Man of the match: Luciano Acosta

Goalscorers: Acosta (45’+4, 64, 90+6′), Ousted (50′ – OG), Dwyer (71′)