WASHINGTON — Former D.C. United player Sean Franklin’s first game against his former side coincided with the opening of Audi Field.
Franklin was met with a cheer from the fans as he was announced in the starting lineup pregame. The four year member of DC United played in over 100 league matches before signing as a free agent with the Vancouver Whitecaps, who lost to United 3-1 in the Saturday night matchup.
“It’s great for the club, for this new stadium and their fans deserve it,” said Franklin, who returned to a much different club than the one he left. “The players deserve it, and it was nice to still see some of the old fans still give some love … that’s always appreciated. It was a game that for me, obviously, I wanted to win. Today, I didn’t, and it’s frustrating that we didn’t come out here and give a good fight. Credit to them for playing well and giving their fans want they wanted to see on the opening day of the stadium.”
Vancouver coach Carl Robinson echoed Franklin’s sentiments, emphasizing the impact the new stadium energy had on the match. The Whitecaps had 15 shots on goal and were the victim of two great efforts by D.C.
United’s Yamil Asad scored the first goal in Audi Field history, curling a shot past keeper Brian Rowe. D.C.’s Paul Arriola was singled out by Robinson for his two-goal performance, which included a bending strike in the 80th minute. Robinson called him “arguably the best player on the pitch today.”
“We knew it would be an emotional occasion, especially for D.C. United,” Robinson said postmatch. “A momentous occasion, sell-out first game at home. You could see the crowd was very energetic. We come with a game plan, and the first goal is always going to be key, and, obviously, they got a goal. A wonderstrike from outside the box, which is probably fitting for their opening of the stadium.
“We had a couple of chances to get back into it and unfortunately, we weren’t able to take them. Then, they get the second and third. I’m disappointed that we conceded two goals outside the box, which is not very good. That’s little details that we need to improve on. We kept going, got the goal in the end, but there were a few players that were slightly off it today.”
Jul 14, 2018; Washington, DC, USA; D.C. United forward Wayne Rooney (center) celebrates with teammates Yamil Asad (left) and Luciano Acosta (right) against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Audi Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
The Whitecaps have their next match against the Montreal Impact in the Canadian Championship on Wednesday. Kei Kamara talked about moving on quickly and said the stadium opening didn’t make Saturday’s match any better or worse for the Whitecaps.
“It’s still the season, midseason right now, and that’s just another game,” Kamara said. “It just happens to be on a special day, special event. We just move on and look to the next game. We have a game in the next couple of days, and we come off of the field with our heads down because we’re disappointed. We wish we could have done better and spoiled the party. It wasn’t good and they came up on top but we just got to be ready for the next game.”
In the past two seasons, no MLS team has won on the road against a team who is opening its stadium. Atlanta United defeated FC Dallas 3-0 in 2017 and Los Angeles FC defeated the Seattle Sounders 1-0 earlier this season.
“It’s frustrating,” Franklin said. “Myself, I gotta do better for my team, and we know the team could have done better tonight. We just didn’t have it today. Credit to them for obviously winning, opening their new stadium.
“We knew they would be pumped and ready and we weren’t just good enough tonight.”