Jul 28, 2018; Washington, DC, USA; D.C. United forward Wayne Rooney (9) passes the ball against the Colorado Rapid during the second half at Audi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
WASHINGTON — In his third game at Audi Field, captain Wayne Rooney added yet another goal to his illustrious career total Saturday in D.C. United’s 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids.
“It was great to see Wayne score,” coach Ben Olsen said. “One of the reasons we brought him here was to score goals.”
The goal comes as a small relief to the England’s all-time leading scorer. His first MLS goal came from a combination play through midfielders Zotlan Stieber and Luciano Acosta.
“For him it relieves a little pressure off his shoulders and now he can just focus on playing,” midfielder Russel Canouse said. “Even when he doesn’t score he is a great asset to this team.”
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Colorado had the first opportunity to score in the 26th minute, when referee Ramy Touchan awarded the Rapids a controversial penalty kick. The newest member of Colorado, Kellyn Acosta, stepped up to take the kick and missed off the woodwork.
“It was his second MLS game, the referee, and you saw that,” Olsen said. “He was pretty inconsistent all night.”
United maintained high pressure through the second half, specifically causing chaos for Howard and the Rapids’ defense around minute 56 with three close chances: the first off the crossbar, the next blocked and the final — a quick one-two-three passing sequence from Yamil Asad to Acosta to Rooney — stopped by Howard.
“[Rooney] played very well,” Olsen said. “His link-up play with Lucho, Asad and Stieber is fun to watch.”
Colorado found a late opening in the counterattack. in the 82 minute, the Rapids’ Acosta got up and behind United’s backline for the late equalizer. United found themselves in a very familiar situation.
“It’s up to the players,” Olsen said. “You have seen us at times lose leads this year. What I am most please about on the night, obviously the three points, but also the way we got [them].”
United dominated the midfield thanks to the attacking effort from Asad, Stieber, Acosta and the outside backs pushing forward. Defensive help from Moreno and Canouse contributed as well.
“Russell was great,” Olsen said. “His duel-winning is as good as we have on the team, and you saw that tonight.”
Canouse made several important tackles on both sides of the field and played more than 80 minutes before subbing off. Forward Darren Mattocks replaced him.
With Mattocks on the field, Rooney pushed back into the center of United’s midfield.
United made one final attempt to secure the win by pushing all but defender Oniel Fisher and substitute Chris Durkin into the attack. The pressure paid off when a shot from Ulises Segura ricocheted off Rapids defender Niki Jackson and into the net.
“It is never luck,” Segura said. “Whenever you get in the box like that you try to hit it as hard as you can so if it hits one of your teammates, or it hits a defender, you get something out of it.”
During stoppage time, United continued on the attack despite Rooney leaving the pitch with a bloodied face. After the match, the team doctor treated Rooney with five stitches for a cut above his left eye and a broken nose.
“I don’t think it is the first time he has bled. I think he is a pretty tough guy,” Olsen said. “He is in the box, putting his face on the line understanding that that is a big moment … He is selfless in that way.”
With the win, United collect six points in a week packed with three matches.
“Every game is important,” Canouse said. “Anytime you win, you want to start a run and continue to build on it. That is our goal going forward.”