The crowd of 17,020 at Audi Field Sunday night were treated to a very entertaining match, how it ended will be a talking point for all of those in attendance for years to come. D.C. United were able to keep their postseason dreams alive with a 3-2 win over Orlando City SC, the game winner came near the end of stoppage time.
“To be honest, I saw it happen before we took the corner. I normally go in the box for corners, that’s why I stayed out because I tried to anticipate something like that happening. I’ve seen it before in football. And again, just run as quick as you can trying to get back. I was hoping he’d take a touch and he did.” – Wayne Rooney, D.C. United
The Black-and-Red had won a corner in roughly the 95th minute, manager Ben Olsen instructed goalkeeper David Ousted to run up into the box as the team was despartely trying to score. Kofi Opare got a head on ball played into the box and put it on target, the ball was cleared off the line. The clearance turned out to be a great start to a counter as the ball landed on the left flank to a running Will Johnson. With Ousted in the box, that left no one back beteween Johnson and the empty net of D.C. United. Wayne Rooney was literally the only not in the Orlando box. He was able to take a good angle and run down Johnson, he won the ball with a textbook slide tackle. Upon winning the ball, Rooney took a few dribbles forward before unleashing a beautiful hanging ball to the far post. Luciano Acosta won the header over Orlando’s Chris Mueller, placing the ball to the opposite post for the winner. It was a crazy sequence for D.C. United and Orlando City SC. The visitors went from thinking they had numbers and an empty net to surrendering the game winner, Acosta’s third of the evening.
How they got to that point is another story, D.C. United took a one goal lead in the 49th minute. That was Acosta’s first stoppage time goal of the night, again Rooney was involved. Lucho played the ball to Wayne at the top of the box, Rooney sent the ball right back to Acosta. Lucho controlled the ball and used two touches to beat two Orlando City SC defenders before firing a shot right inside the near post. There wasn’t a lot of room between the keeper and the post, but Acosta blasted the shot into the little space that was provided.
At the start of the second half, Orlando got their equalizer courtesy of an own goal by David Ousted. Oriol Rossell was running out of the room near the touchline and played a hopeful ball towards the goal. Steven Birnbaum appeared to have a gotten a foot on the ball and it bounced off of Ousted into the goal.
The Black-and-Red would regain the lead 14 minutes later when Yamil Asad found Acosta at the far post. It started with a poor clearance by Dillon Powers, Asad collected the ball and lofted a ball to the far post. Acosta timed his run well and exploded into the open space, he left his feet and used his right foot to guide the ball into the goal. In the process of leaving his feet, Acosta took a shot from Joseph Bendik, Orlando’s keeper.
Prior to Lucho’s second goal of the night, Orlando City’s Cristian Higuita was issued a red card for elbowing Asad. Down a man, the visitors didn’t stop fighting. They would again even things up, this time in the 71st minute. Dom Dwyer beat D.C. United’s attempt at an offside’s trap with a perfectly timed run on a pass from Rosell. After collecting the ball, he chipped the ball over a charging Ousted. The goal was eerily similar to Colorado’s Kellyn Acosta in their game at Audi Field.
That’s why the result was so deflating for the visiting group, they fought back down a man to not only steal a draw, but had a quality opportunity to steal a win. Just like that it was gone and the Black-and-Red escaped with a much needed win. Several players from D.C. United mentioned the role they played in that game being that close after the strong start, they also talked about the significance of Rooney’s tackle at the end of the game. Olsen had this to say when asked if this win could build momentum going forward. “It does have that feeling. The energy out there [Audi Field] is as good as I’ve seen in this building so far. Tonight was one of those games that you’ll talk about down the road as a great game in this building.”
D.C United hosts Portland on Wednesday at Audi Field.
Rooney: No wasted movements, he was surgical with his passing throughout the game. Routinely switching fields and he dropped back at times to facilitate the attack. Him being able to do so allows Acosta to venture forward a bit more with the intention to score, Lucho hasn’t always looked for his shot in the past, but he’s started to do so more since the arrival of Rooney. The sequence to end the game was just a great show of leadership, it’s a young team and actions always carry more weight than words.
Acosta: As a very sound technical player mixed with his blend of creativity, he’s shown the ability to make plays for others. The arrival of Rooney has allowed him to switch gears a bit more and use those same skills to create for himself. Nearly every goal he scored tonight, increased in their level of difficulty from one to three. They’re really starting to click as a duo and it’s really just simple soccer. As Acosta continues to evolve as a scorer, it will only open things up for his teammates.
Ball movement: This has continued to improve in the past few weeks, players are doing a better job of not only moving the ball but moving bodies as well. The Black-and-Red spent most of the night in the attacking third and rarely seemed rush doing so, the simple soccer mentioned above seems to be rubbing off. As Olsen said after the game, good soccer players make it easy to play with other good players. That’s been the case over the past few games as D.C. United has created several good chances a game, the next step is capitalizing on it.
Fisher: He continues to do his job well out wide, whether it’s winning the ball or joining the attack. His speed allows him to win 1v1 at times and provide service into the box. He’s also been able to hold the ball well and combine with teammates well, D.C. really attacked on his flank for most of the first half.