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DC United dominates 9-man Real Salt Lake 5-0, Rooney gets 1st MLS hat trick

WASHINGTON — Wayne Rooney led D.C. United to a 5-0 win over Real Salt Lake with a hat trick and an assist Saturday at Audi Field.

Ten minutes into the game, D.C. United (2-0-1, 7 points) enacted a high-pressure offense against RSL (1-1-1, 4 points), dominating possession in the middle of the field and the final third. United outshot RSL 22-4. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid barely had to touch the ball on the way to United’s third shutout of the season.

“In the first half, after a slow start — about 10 minutes — I thought we started to make them feel uncomfortable in the back,” Olsen said. “We were able to be the better team in the first half, and then the red cards change things.”

Rooney opened his 2019 scoring bank with three goals and his second assist of the season. The first goal came after a challenge between midfielder Paul Arriola and defender Marcelo Silva in the 34th minute. As Arriola sprinted into the box, Silva cut off the angle and stepped on Arriola’s foot. After video review, referee David Gantar showed Silva a yellow card and awarded United the penalty kick. With a stutter step, Rooney put one past former United goalkeeper Nick Rimando for a 1-0 lead over RSL.

“We were expecting a difficult game,” Rooney said. “We were sticking to our game plan which we worked on. The first goal helped us and the red card makes the game a bit different than we planned for. It gave us more space.”

A little more than 10 minutes after the first video review, Gantar again relied on the monitor to show a card to RSL. This time it was a red card to midfielder Jefferson Savarino for a high kick in the direction of midfielder Luciano Acosta’s nose.

With a man advantage, Rooney easily chipped in a second goal during first-half stoppage time with an assist from Leonardo Jara. 

United kept the pressure in the second half. Rooney and Acosta made run after run toward the goal against a tired Salt Lake defense.

“We had chances,” Rooney said. “A part from my header that I missed, we were quite clinical in front of the goal.”

The attempts paid off in the 65th minute and Rooney redeemed himself. Midfielder Junior Moreno won a 50-50 challenge at midfield and quickly gave the ball to Acosta. At the top of the box, Acosta set up a sprinting Moreno. He then slotted the ball to Rooney, who finished with his first hat trick in the Black-and-Red.

“I was thinking that during the game, if I didn’t get another chance I would have been disappointed,” Rooney said about his missed header. “Thankfully, I got the third goal, otherwise I would have beaten myself up a bit over that tonight.”

Shortly after the third goal, a card came out again. This time, Ganter showed Silva his second yellow card of the night, reducing RSL to nine men to finish the game. 

Rooney wasn’t done. In the 76th minute he recorded an assist on United’s fourth goal of the game. Rooney lofted a corner kick into the air, which floated in front of midfielder Lucas Rodriguez. Rodriguez volleyed in his first goal in a United jersey. 

“We have been talking to him about that,” Olsen said of Rodriguez. “We are relying on him to fill up some of those numbers [in the box] that we had last year with Yamil [Asad] or some other guys. That is the responsibility that we are asking him to take on.”

With a two-man advantage, United refused to let up and in the final 10 minutes of the game, substitute Ulises Segura made the score 5-0. 

“It was a mature second half in the way we went about it. We have to make sure we understand that we maybe got a fair bounce. Stay humble and get back to work over the next two weeks,” Olsen said of his squad’s next steps. “I don’t think we can get too caught up in this 5-0 stuff.”

United has yet to concede a goal in the 2019 season. The club has a two-week break during the upcoming international window before heading down to Orlando City SC March 31. 

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