D.C. United

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

MLS roundup: Timbers end road trip with emphatic win in Philly

Leave a comment

A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in MLS…

[ MORE: USA topped by Ukraine in U-20 World Cup opener ]

Philadelphia Union 1-3 Portland Timbers [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

Just when everyone had begun to take the Union seriously — to give them the respect befitting a first-place team — Jim Curtin’s side fell flat on its face and fell out of the Eastern Conference’s top spot. Saturday’s defeat to the suddenly streaking — and homeward bound — Timbers snapped Philadelphia’s six-game unbeaten run (four wins).

24-year-old attacker Brian Fernandez, signed as a Designated Player earlier this month, made his first MLS start and marked the occasion with two first-half goals (31st and 36th minutes). Diego Valeri added the third (87th) after Kacper Przybylko pulled the Union back to 2-1 in the 47th.

Now, with 14 points from their 12-game road trip to start the season, Portland heads home for 17 of their final 22 games to be played inside a newly renovated — and expanded — Providence Park. The gap between themselves and a Western Conference playoff place is just four points.

New England Revolution 1-1 D.C. United [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

With the Union slipping up and dropping all three points, D.C. United made the most of their opportunity to return to the top of the East on the back of Wayne Rooney‘s 90th-minute penalty kick to snatch a 1-1 draw with (what will soon be) Bruce Arena’s Revolution.

Juan Agudelo put the home side ahead with a header in the 61st minute, and the lead held firm for nearly the final half-hour. Alas, video review reviewed a handball late in the game, which presented Rooney the chance to play the part of hero. He duly obliged and hammered his spot kick past backup goalkeeper Brad Knighton, who replaced Matt Turner following his 56th minute red card for cleaning out Rooney.

Arena is expected to take charge of Revs training this week and make his debut as head coach next Sunday, when his new side visits… his old side, the LA Galaxy.

Colorado Rapids 3-2 Columbus Crew SC [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

Don’t look now, but the Rapids have won two straight games under interim head coach Conor Casey and appear set on clawing their way out of the league’s basement.

Sure, they blew a pair of leads at home, but they also hit back with another goal of their own every time Crew SC drew level, culminating in a stunning winner from Nicolas Mezquida.

The gap between Colorado and 23th place is now just three points, as expansion side FC Cincinnati come closer and closer on the horizon.

Elsewhere in MLS

Chicago Fire 1-1 New York City FC [ HIGHLIGHTS ]
Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 FC Dallas [ HIGHLIGHTS ]
FC Cincinnati 0-2 New York Red Bulls [ HIGHLIGHTS ]
Minnesota United 1-0 Houston Dynamo [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

Sunday’s MLS schedule

Sporting Kansas City v. Seattle Sounders — 6 p.m. ET
Toronto FC v. San Jose Earthquakes — 7:30 p.m. ET

NYCFC shut down Rooney, DCU for first win (video)

Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The game in 100 words (or less): New York City remedied their rocky start to the 2019 season with a Sunday stroll through Audi Field and three points. D.C. United, on the other hand, looked a sad shell of their former selves, the side hotly picked to represent the Eastern Conference in MLS Cup 2019. Alexandru Mitrita and Heber bagged the goals for Domenec Torrent’s side, which has lost just once in seven games to start the season and suddenly sits a point outside the East’s seven playoff places. Heber stole the spotlight in his first MLS start, bagging NYCFC’s second goal and notching a secondary assist on their first. Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta were mostly held in check, outside of set-piece opportunities, in large part to a formational switch by Torrent: he opted for three center backs including 18-year-old academy product James Sands.

[ MORE: Everton pummels Manchester United (video) ]

Three moments that mattered

35′ — Mitrita scores through a sea of legs — Mitrita gets a bit lucky when his shot deflects off the leg of Frederic Brilliant, but United’s defending as a whole is far too lax to begin the sequence.

45’+4 — Moralez’s penalty smashes off the post, keeps DCU alive — When it happened, Maxi Moralez’s missed penalty kick appeared to be the second chance United needed to get back into the game. Alas…

56′ — Heber rifles inside the far post to make it 2-0 — United’s lifeline lasted all of 11 game-minutes, as they were slow to react to a simple ball over the top. Heber made the most of his first real look at goal, from a tight angle.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Heber

Goalscorers: Mitrita (35′), Heber (56′)

Report: Man United scouted D.C. United’s Acosta

Leave a comment

Count Manchester United in as the latest European giant to scout D.C. United’s star playmaker Luciano Acosta.

Just a few months after Paris Saint-Germain nearly signed the Argentine on transfer deadline day last January, Manchester United has reportedly sent a scout to watch Acosta, according to a report from Pablo Maurer with The Athletic. It’s Acosta’s fourth season at D.C. United but he’s finally lived up to the talent he has since the arrival of Wayne Rooney in July 2018. Last season Acosta had 10 goals and 17 assists, most of which came in the second half of the season.

[READ: Everton tops Arsenal with Jagielka’s goal]

So far this season, he has one goal and two assists in five matches, though he struggled in Los Angeles FC’s 4-0 rout of D.C. United last weekend.

It’s likely that Man United sent a scout to Audi Field on the advice from Rooney himself or his intermediaries, but it’s also a sign that big clubs in Europe are really starting to scout and look at players plying their trade in MLS. Miguel Almiron’s performances for Newcastle since his arrival have shown that the level in MLS has risen to the point that stars in the league can fit into the Premier League in the right setting.

MLS is an attractive setting for Premier League clubs to see if players can grow. Especially for South American talents, its a chance to move to a new culture, learn English and challenge themselves in a more physical league, all of which are similar to the Premier League. While the talent and skill level in the Premier League is clearly higher, just adapting culturally and learning how to live abroad are key skills that will make the adjustment to England much easier.

Barring any sort of big departures this summer, it doesn’t look like there’s a place for Acosta at Old Trafford at the moment. He’d certainly be behind Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Juan Mata and maybe even Alexis Sanchez in the depth chart.

Per The Athletic, Acosta has drawn interest from clubs in the Middle East and Persian Gulf, England and France.

MLS preview: DCU host LAFC in possible MLS Cup preview

Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Get ready for another busy weekend of MLS action, beginning Friday night…

[ MORE: Danny Rose breaks silence about facing racist abuse in Montenegro ]

D.C. United v. Los Angeles FC — Saturday, 3 p.m. ET

Based on four weeks of results, this could very well be a preview of MLS Cup 2019. A few numbers to paint a picture of early-season dominance:

  • No team in MLS has won more points than LAFC’s 13 (from five games)
  • No team in the Eastern Conference has won more than D.C. United’s 10 (from four games)
  • No team in MLS has conceded fewer goals than United’s one — one, singular
  • No team in MLS has scored more goals than LAFC’s 15
  • No player in MLS has scored more goals than Carlos Vela’s six, or assisted more than Vela’s three, thus no player in MLS has scored and assisted more goals than Vela’s nine
  • No player in MLS (other than Vela) has scored more goals than Wayne Rooney‘s four, or assisted more than Rooney’s three

Based on the above evidence, Vela and Rooney are clear frontrunners for the 2019 MVP award. At this moment in time, most would probably call their teams the frontrunners to lift MLS Cup on Nov. 10.

Vancouver Whitecaps v. LA Galaxy — Friday, 10 p.m. ET

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has vowed to play when the LA Galaxy visit stadiums with artificial playing surfaces in 2019, beginning with Friday’s trip to BC Place to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps. Despite missing more than three weeks of action due to an achilles issue last month, Ibrahimovic says he is fully fit and ready to go.

“I’m ready,” he said this week. “No consequences [from] my issue I had a couple of weeks ago. If I feel good, I will play.”

The big Swede missed just four games upon signing the Galaxy in 2018, two of which were played on artificial surfaces and one for a “suspension” for not playing in the All-Star Game, on turf. Despite missing two games during the injury, Ibrahimovic is off to a quick start with three goals scored in the two games he has played.

Toronto FC v. Chicago Fire — 3 p.m. ET

Toronto FC have, to the tune of three wins from their first three games, bounced back from a disastrous 2018 season which saw them miss the playoffs by 14 points. The Reds have gotten key contributions from the likes of Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, before the arrival — and stunning debut — of Alejandro Pozuelo.

With the Spaniard now in tow, a backline which was reduced to rubble last year back to full strength, Greg Vanney’s side has look downright dominant at times. Having scored no fewer than three goals in any game this season, the sky could be the limit once again as Pozuelo quickly acclimates to life in MLS offers his best impression of Sebastian Giovinco’s gaudy goal and assist numbers.

Full MLS schedule

Friday

Vancouver Whitecaps v. LA Galaxy — 10 p.m. ET

Saturday

New York City FC v. Montreal Impact — 1 p.m. ET
D.C. United v. Los Angeles FC — 3 p.m. ET
Toronto FC v. Chicago Fire — 3 p.m. ET
New York Red Bulls v. Minnesota United — 7 p.m. ET
Columbus Crew SC v. New England Revolution — 7:30 p.m. ET
Orlando City SC v. Colorado Rapids — 7:30 p.m. ET
Philadelphia Union v. FC Dallas — 7:30 p.m. ET
San Jose Earthquakes v. Portland Timbers — 8 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders v. Real Salt Lake — 10 p.m. ET

Sunday

FC Cincinnati v. Sporting Kansas City — 3 p.m. ET

Rooney’s impossible free kick wins it for DCU in Orlando (video)

AP Photo/John Raoux
Leave a comment

It wasn’t the first time Wayne Rooney pulled off a nearly impossible feat since he came to MLS last summer, and it almost certainly won’t be the last time he does so either.

[ MORE: What did we learn in the Premier League? (video) ]

Just like his first bout of jaw-dropping MLS heroism (remember this?!), Rooney’s latest miracle sealed all three point for D.C. United, in a 2-1 win away to Orlando City SC on Sunday. It was the Black and Red’s first away win since May 19, 2018, a span of 11 games stretching back to well before Rooney’s arrival.

It wasn’t the game-saving tackle/60-yard assist we’ve come to know and expect from Rooney, but it was still a free kick scored from a spot on the field that shouldn’t ever be scored.

First things first, let’s note that goalkeeper Brian Rowe never moved his feet until it was too late, and he makes the easy catch if he gets a better any read on the ball whatsoever. Beyond that, we could do the typical “was he shooting or crossing?” debate, but that’s long since been played out. We could also argue over whether or not it should have been a foul, thus a free kick, in the first place, but Dom Dwyer clearly makes a wayward attempt to kick the ball, which if deemed dangerous by the referee can be whistled as a foul, per the Laws of the Game.

Instead, let’s take a second to appreciate the impact Rooney has had (14W-5D-4L) on DCU since his debut last July, and contrast that record with their record pre-Rooney (2W-5D-7L). This is what you call a superstar, and that was a “superstar call” given to Rooney by Armando Villarreal. This is how the sports world works.

[ MORE: Fate playing its part in Liverpool’s title challenge ]

Anyway, Steve Birnbaum bagged the opener after just six minutes, and though Orlando were the leading aggressors and out-shot DCU 16-4 (5-3 on target), Ben Olsen’s side found a way to hold on for dear life away from home — even after Dwyer’s goal in the 63rd (WATCH HERE) — and grind out three points.

That’s what championship-worthy teams do, and DCU are a championship-worthy team with Rooney at the helm.