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Rodriguez brace powers D.C. United over FC Cincinnati

Rose Lavelle was in the building, but her hometown side fell to D.C. United.

CINCINNATI — Despite having hometown hero and World Cup star Rose Lavelle in the building, FC Cincinnati fell to D.C. United 4-1 at Nippert Stadium on Thursday night, in front of an announced crowd of 28,774 fans.

Two goals from Lucas Rodriguez, one in each half, propelled D.C. United (10-8-4) to victory in their ever first trip to Queen City.

Wayne Rooney and Paul Arriola rounded out the scoring, erasing all hope for an FC Cincinnati (5-14-2) side that pulled level through Emmanuel Ledesma penalty nearly ten minutes after halftime.

The result snaps a two-match winning streak for Cincinnati, which remains at the bottom of the Eastern Conference table. The win means D.C. extend their unbeaten streak to five matches. 

Dodgy defense returns for Cincinnati

Scrappy wins over Houston and away to Chicago weren’t exactly staunch defensive displays for Cincinnati. However, they appeared to indicate that FCC — a side that’s conceded a league-high 49 goals this season — had finally begun to arrest their defensive issues.

But that defensive progress was tested early and often by the D.C. attack. Just five minutes in, Leonardo Jara went inches wide of the target following a quick counter. Spencer Richey then had to go full stretch to deny a Wayne Rooney freekick following a yellow card challenge by Waston in the 16th-minute. 

Cincinnati wasn’t just along for the ride, though. A nicely threaded pass from Leonardo Bertone nearly set Rashawn Dally free on 23 minutes, but a superb block from Fred Brilliant resulted from a corner. Kendall Waston then nearly gave the hosts a lead when his header on the service in rattled the crossbar.

The deadlock, however, was ended at the other end of the pitch in the 42nd-minute. Slow pressure in the box allowed Wayne Rooney to easily pick out Rodriguez at the 18 following a D.C. throw-in. The young Argentine then had ample time to take a touch and pick his spot far post. 

And while the Orange and Blue did tie things up with Ledesma’s penalty in the 54th-minute, it wasn’t long before they found themselves back in a hole. Despite having a six-men-versus-three advantage, Cincinnati again left Rodriguez with plenty of time to get off another shot. Though a deflection off of Waston helped it past Richey, the effort restored the D.C. lead in the 59th.

Rooney would add a third five minutes later and poor defending was again at play. After being fed through by Jara, a single touch against the grain from the Englishman left both Waston and Justin Hoyte helpless as Rooney coolly slotted past Richey. 

By the time D.C.’s added their fourth just nine minutes later, the match was well done and dusted. With Cincinnati pushing for a response to the United onslaught, Jara again picked out a teammate with a long diagonal. Arriola, facing little defensive pressure, then carried it into the box blasted it top corner from a narrow angle to make it 4-1. 

Offensive struggles persist

Despite the lopsided scoreline, FCC weren’t completely inept going forward. The hosts logged 58 percent of possession on the evening, and they outpassed the visitors by over 100 passes.

Jul 18, 2019; Cincinnati, OH, USA; United States women's national soccer team member Rose Lavelle (middle) is honored during halftime in the game of D.C. United against FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

But as has been the case all season, converting possession into goals and execution dogged Cincinnati throughout the match.

Just three of their 11 shots landed on target, with six total being blocked before even having a chance to reach it. And both Waston’s header off the crossbar and Ledesma’s penalty were chances that failed to come from open play. Even Fanendo Adi’s late introduction off the bench failed to bring an offensive spark.

For a side that already has the worst defense in the league, having the league’s second worst offensive production isn’t helping matters either.

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