D.C. United players Mateusz Klich, Andy Najar, and Chris Durkin celebrate a goal during a match against Toronto.

D.C. United kicked off the 2023 campaign by snagging all three points at Audi Field, sending Toronto FC home empty-handed.

The offseason left us uncertain about what we would see from head coach Wayne Rooney and the Black-and-Red formation-wise due to a roster that is clearly still a work in progress. Mentality-wise, however, we are crystal clear on what our expectations should be. Rooney has been adamant that each player must earn their time on the pitch and unwaveringly show up to win at each and every match.

Mounting their attack early toward the Chico Stand, D.C. started the match with the upper hand. The Black-and-Red staged a threatening press and tested Toronto’s defense with a series of attempts to find a way to Sean Johnson. In the 13′, the pressure paid off. Star signing Mateusz Klich found an opening to slip a shot past Johnson and open his account in Black-and-Red in front of a cheering home crowd.

After the match, Klich told The District Press, “I think we showed today the way we want to play and then how we want to win the games. And we can be very successful, very organized and dangerous because we have players to do it.”

While D.C. United remained on the front foot for much of the first half; Toronto’s Ayo Akinola found his way past the Black-and-Red’s back line to make a dangerous run at Tyler Miller. A stumble kept D.C. in the lead, but Akinola came back for more, weaving around Victor Pálsson and firing off a dangerous shot that thankfully hit the post.

Closing out the first half, the Black-and-Red held the lead, 1-0. Toronto responded with tenacity, going on the offensive to route out any opportunity on goal.

The second half was fiery, despite the steadily dropping temperatures at Buzzard Point. D.C. and Toronto, each struggled to gain an edge. In the 65′, Richie Laryea drew a penalty after a dustup with Matai Akinmboni. DP Federico Bernardeschi stepped up to take the penalty for Toronto, converting to put the visitors on the board in the 66′.

Toronto didn’t have to wait long to find another opportunity, Mark-Anthony Kaye capitalized on a shot deflected by D.C.’s Miller to rebound and find the back of the net in the 83′. The tension seemed to balloon as supporters’ hopes dipped. Just last season, the Black-and-Red would usually be overcome by an opponent’s late lead.

Something has shifted through the offseason, though. The Black-and-Red might have been down 1-2 in the waning moments of the match but certainly not out.

Christian Benteke found the equalizer at the death, capitalizing on a cross by Ted Ku-DiPietro to snap a header past Sean Johnson. The crowd burst to life. Their cheers were so loud you’d think the home side had already won.

Eight minutes of stoppage time would make all the difference for the Black-and-Red. In the final moment of the match, Mohanad Jeahze found a waiting Ku-DiPietro in the center of the box. Ku-DiPietro fired the final shot of the match and buried it in the net to seal the win and claim all three points for D.C. United.

In the end, it was their mentality that pushed D.C. United to a strong comeback against Toronto. Rooney said, “especially throughout the preseason, we spent a lot of time with the players creating that mindset and mentality and character to keep going, and I actually said before the game there’s a possibility you might be losing the game and someone will come off the bench and win the game. And it’s exactly what happened.”

D.C. United next faces Columbus Crew at Lower.com Field on March 4 at 7:30 pm ET.

Three Takeaways

  • Klich is a danger to the Black-and-Red’s opposition. Scoring in the 13′, Klich easily found an early opportunity against Toronto. Given his record, we’re anticipating many more goals to come this season.
  • Miller brings relief to D.C.’s defense (and the rest of us). After an anxiety-inducing patch for Black-and-Red goalkeepers, Miller’s competence is a breath of fresh air.
  • The right mentality. Wayne Rooney has demanded the Black-and-Red embrace a winning mentality over the offseason and into the preseason. The way the team showed up tonight against Toronto and fought to a dramatic comeback isn’t something we’ll soon forget. We look forward to seeing this mental toughness on display as the season wears on.

Box Score

MLS Regular Season – Game 1

D.C. United: 3 Klich 13′, Benteke 90′, Ku-DiPietro 90′ + 8′

Toronto FC: 2 Bernardeschi 66′, Kaye 83′


D.C. United: Tyler Miller, Mohanad Jeahze, Pedro Santos (Jackson Hopkins 86′), Andy Najar, Matai Akinmboni (Steven Birnbaum 78′), Russell Canouse, Chris Durkin (Kristian Fletcher 86′), Mateusz Klich, Victor Pálsson, Nigel Robertha (Ted Ku-DiPietro 67′), Christian Benteke

Toronto FC: Sean Johnson, Matt Hedges, Sigurd Rosted, Richie Laryea, Raoul Petretta, Michael Bradley, Federico Bernardeschi, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Jonathan Osorio, Lorenzo Insigne (Ayo Akinola 34′), Adama Diomande (Brandon Servania 77′)

Misconduct Summary

D.C. United: Canouse 56′, Benteke 60′

Toronto FC: Bernardeschi 79′, Laryea 85′

BySarah Kallassy

Managing Editor

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Kerry Hess

Lots to say about the match, but I’ll start by saying that I’m glad you went with the pun in the title. 😉

Brendan Cartwright

Testing out the comments…


Not a bad way to start the season — and the site looks fantastic!

Annie Elliott

Lower.com Field is an insane name for a field


This had the look of a game from last year until the last 8 minutes.
Good play and a couple big key mistakes.
There won! New year. New habits.



Stunned Duck

A very surprising and pleasing finish to a game that looked like a preseason match for most of its length. Have to wonder whether any two players in the starting lineup other than our longer-term holdovers (Canouse, Najar, Durkin) had played more minutes together in their careers than Fletcher and KDP have simply by virtue of time in Loudoun; I’m interested to see what some of the mercenaries can do once they start to understand each other.


Great to see a win! (Now if only I can figure out how to watch a replay game without seeing the score first… plus can only find the highlights not the full replay)


I wonder if this is just a feature that hasn’t “come online” yet, or if Apple really doesn’t want to share the love with google and YouTube. IMO, not in their best interests not to have official online highlights packages available to the public to entice them in, but it’s possible that the rivalry between media titans is really that petty.

Adam Taylor

It sounds like they may be cutting YouTube out entirely, though it’s also early days. Hopefully we at least get an embed button from Apple or the league website so we can share highlights here.


Posted a reply to Sarah above about the lack of Youtube highlights, doesn’t seem to appear. Does that mean that discussion threads aren’t a thing yet, or does it mean that replies have to be approved?

At any rate, the gist of the comment was, I’m wondering if Apple would rather deny themselves the growing potential of enticing casuals in with Youtube highlight packages just to deny Youtube and Google their content. It’s possible they’re that petty, I hope not.


Ha, never mind, just a delayed reaction about the replies. Might make larger conversations a bit slow, but glad they’re visible eventually.


Just testing out the comments section. It was cold Saturday night but DCU heated things.

David Rusk

I hope that this action qualifies me to be a regular member of the DistrictPress Commentariat.


So is this the site replacing B&RU? I had to hunt for it and didn’t see an official announcement on the old website.

Adam Taylor

This is the one, update your bookmarks! We’ve added the news over there now, too

[…] of D.C. United’s 3-2 win over Toronto FC by us, WaPo, and MLS. Waking the Red (yes they’re still over there) has the opposition […]


Well, very surprised and satisfied with the result. Impressed with Klich, a level of competence, coolness with the ball and on field leadership that has been lacking for several years. Jeahze looks like a truly competent left back, something absent last year entirely. Miller is steady and competent — probably not outstanding in any way, but after last year, a real breath of fresh air. Benteke will aggravate most of the time, but he did his job at the end. I wasn’t impressed with his movement, passing or pace, but he’s paid to score goals, and that’s what he did.
Nice start to the season, but there certainly remain issues. Santos did well, but at 35, he’s not an every game 90 minute player. Durkin seemed lost on an island most of the night as his teammates couldn’t/didn’t pick him out on what could have been some unsettling switches of attack. Ku and Fletcher were entertaining to watch and played without fear. Except for one glaring mistake, Akinmboni did not look like a 16 year old at all. He may be the next big thing.
Finally, congratulations on the new site — looks great, indeed better and cleaner than the old one.


Nice new space! And nice start to the season! So excited to see what Klich does this season, and also excited for the growth of our homegrowns.

[…] out Sarah’s full recap and then dive into our thoughts on the 3-2 dub below. Be sure to jump in the comments, too, to let […]


Love the new site! I was watching the game with the whole family and my 12 y/o daughter has a new favorite player, Matai Akinmboni. She kept saying that he was better than all of the adults out there, and for a large part of the game that was true. Was I the only one that thought that the reffing was…trying to be kind here…not great?

Bryan McEachern

I appreciate all the work that went into this.

Bryan McEachern

I am Doc96, btw……
I immunize children, hate me….

Bryan McEachern

The picture quality on Apple TV is brilliant at home. Kind of hard at first to have my Boomer Brain navigate things. The only thing I couldn’t get at was the optional radio (our Dave!) broadcast. When I click on the icon I get three options: recap (fine for a quickie), and two full game choices for English or Spanish. I am currently watching full game and enjoying the experience. What am I missing to get to Dave? The current announcers are fine, just not Our Dave. Advice certainly welcome.

Another thing: I do feel that the “first punch” of a renewed attention to customer service was applied well at many levels. I got really warm greetings from staff from gate to eaglebank to seating section. I appreciate that, and I certainly respond in kind. A lot of new faces in the stands, but nice ones. I think the club put its best foot forward even it was on wobbly ground. Courage, Commentariat, Courage…..

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