D.C. United tried to keep the Rooney magic alive this Saturday as they kept the pressure on Orlando City SC. Ultimately, the match at Audi Field ended in a 1-1 draw, with a late stunner by homegrown Chris Durkin breaking Orlando goalkeeper Pedro Gallese’s perfect record.

Early on, the Black-and-Red were strong in possession, pressing a tired Orlando to create a bevy of chances even before the 10′. D.C. barely left Orlando’s half at the beginning of the match, with Ruan able to feed the ball forward well from the right to Chris Durkin, Christian Benteke, and anyone else ready and waiting in the box.

We witnessed an entire Black-and-Red team playing out of the back. Tyler Miller emulated a center back as the team made a unified push higher up the field to really hold Orlando to the fire.

Ruan made his first start for the Black-and-Red tonight, just in time to face his former team, where he played for four years. Interestingly enough, Orlando had picked up D.C. alum Felipe Martins, who was in the 18. While Martins didn’t make an appearance in this match, we’re looking forward to facing him in a future meeting.

The Black-and-Red knew that despite tired legs, Orlando’s goalkeeper Pedro Gallese would be a challenge. Gallese has kept a clean sheet for the Lions this season, up until tonight that is.

It looked like Benteke would be the one to ruin Gallese’s perfect record in the 27′, getting a foot on a cross from Durkin in the box. Gallese dove to deny Benteke, making the near-impossible save to keep Orlando safe.

By the half, the match was still scoreless, although not for lack of trying on the part of the Black-and-Red. Orlando even did their part, with a dangerous attempt by Facundo Torres in the 37′ that, thankfully, missed the mark. It seemed only a matter of time until Benteke, Klich, or Durkin scored for the Black-and-Red. Klich alone had seven chances in last week’s match.

At the half, the shot map had us in awe.

After the half, Orlando came back swinging. In the 53′, Duncan McGuire scored his first goal in his debut appearance. Dagur Thórhallsson was on the assist with a headed pass. Óscar Pareja, Orlando’s head coach, said, “I’m very pleased because he’s a young kid and and very committed with a group and an American player that came from the college system, which is fantastic. And he’s proven already in his first game that he will launch so we’re very happy for him.”

Wayne Rooney said, “We need to tighten up and defend better in them situations and be more clinical. It’s what I’ve been saying from the start to the season.”

The Black-and-Red responded immediately, going on the counter to try and secure the equalizer. As Benteke made his attempt, the ball deflected off Wilder Cartagena’s arm. Cartagena was doing everything in his power to keep his arm behind his back and out of the way, but initially, referee Jon Freemon had called for a penalty. After VAR, the penalty call was rescinded, and play continued.

In the 80′, Chris Durkin found the equalizer for D.C. in a bit of deja-vu for the home crowd. He took advantage of a pass from Pedro Santos to lob a rocket past Gallese, ruining the goalkeeper’s perfect streak.

Rooney was pleased with Durkin’s performance, saying, “I thought it was a great finish. I thought he looked dangerous tonight. He created two or three really good opportunities for us. Great goal with his left foot and he deserves it because he’s a player who works hard and doesn’t really get a lot of credit for his performances and I think he’s up there in the top five for chances created.”

Durkin, ever humble, told The District Press,

“I think you can see I’m a bit of a team player, a little bit of a Swiss army knife and I don’t mind that role. I just care about winning and providing the best chance for that and wherever Wayne needs me, I’ll be there and he knows that I’ll always give my best.”

D.C. United next faces NYCFC at Yankee Stadium on March 18 at 7:30 pm ET.

Three Takeaways

  • Tyler Miller pulls double duty. Miller’s ability to play sweeper-keeper was key several times during the match as he kept the Black-and-Red’s attack going with a well-timed header or pass.
  • Not for lack of trying. Looking at the breakdown of shots on target, we can confidently say that it wasn’t for lack of trying that D.C. United didn’t score first. Unfortunately, luck and a slight lack of clinical finishing on some chances left the Black-and-Red missing out on vital points against Orlando.
  • It’s deja-vu. Kind of. Reminiscent of July 2022, Chris Durkin made a comeback for the Black-and-Red. The only missing element was Taxi Fountas (or really anyone) to tie a bow on the match with a second goal.

Watch the highlights from D.C. United vs. Orlando City SC.

Box Score

MLS Regular Season – Game 3

D.C. United: 1 Durkin 80′

Orlando City SC: 1 McGuire 53′


D.C. United: Tyler Miller, Ruan, Derrick Williams, Mohanad Jeahze, Pedro Santos (Jackson Hopkins 87′), Steven Birnbaum, Russell Canouse, Chris Durkin (Kristian Fletcher 90’+3′), Ted Ku-DiPietro (Yamil Asad 59′), Mateusz Klich, Christian Benteke

Orlando City SC: Pedro Gallese, Rafael Santos, Rodrigo Schlegel, Kyle Smith (Michael Halliday 84′), Abdi Salim (Robin Jansson 46′), Mauricio Pereyra (Cesar Araujo 64′), Wilder Cartagena, Dagur Thórhallsson, Iván Angulo (Gaston Gonzalez 68′), Duncan McGuire, Facundo Torres (Martin Ojeda 46′)

Misconduct Summary

D.C. United: Asad 65′, Ruan 87′

Orlando City SC: Smith 77′

Featured image courtesy of D.C. United, Hannah Wagner

BySarah Kallassy

Managing Editor

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Talonesque #

I guess we should embrace the positives of this, that our shape and positional discipline were way, way better in this game, and though the inclusion of Ruan and Williams was a factor in that, it also had to be coaching. So, well done in that department, Rooney.

There was the adjustment where TKD was on the left wing, and Pedro Santos was played as sort of a second striker or connecting player behind Benteke. TKD provided a lot more thrust, and made the midfield a lot more dynamic. Santos will be credited with a rather unearned assist on Durkin’s goal, but I gotta say, he was generally invisible in that capacity, certainly never got a shot off. If anything, I think Asad affected play with his cameo a lot more, and might be more effective there till Taxi comes back.

Durkin’s obviously not a problem when he scores those golazos, and his no look cross that found Benteke for the stuffed a shot was pretty classy. I doubt he does that enough to overcome a lot of the rest of his play, but we’re now honor-bound to find out if he can in at least the next.

More than anything, shit, what a frustrating gap between our dominance in the first half and the reality of the score sheet. You can say Gallese was just too good, but we did not get enough clear chances. I think Benteke needs someone behind him who will create more and get some shots off, and till Taxi is healthy, need to sort that out.

The lack of Najar in the 18 is curious. We’ll have to see where this is headed.

With our first halves against Toronto and Orlando, we should be on 6 points out of 9, 4 stings. We seem to be heading in the right direction with the formation, but we need to absolutely correct the dynamism element and create enough confusion in opposing defenses that we don’t experience that level of frustration consistently.

Last edited 8 months ago by Talonesque #

Najar has a hamstring issue and is out. But Goff says Taxi is likely back by April 1.


Thought that was Durkin’s best game this season. He’s going to play, Wayne likes him. Agree about Santos, he just doesn’t have the wheels anymore. He should be the late game sub to kill off a game, he was terribly miscast upfront. Several times balls were played over the top to him and he was overtaken by an Orlando defender way too easily.
Miller playing so far out gave me the vapors, but he seems to know what he’s doing and it works in Rooney’s system — so far, so good.

Talonesque #

Durkin is a bit baffling, clearly an offensive player rather than a tenacious presence. This was an impactful game for him going forward, no question. It does remind me of some wisdom spoken by Steve Martin, “Anyone can be great for a night, being good every night is hard.” If he can provide a consistent level over the games that makes us more statistically likely to get a result than if someone else held that spot, I’ll be pleased. As is, I don’t know if I can root for him without acknowledging my doubts that his effectiveness exists only in rare flashes.

Talonesque #

Anyway, shout out to Tyler Miller for having a really solid game in the backline, I mean goal. His distribution is good enough that Birnbaum just passes back to him whenever a difficult pass is needed. His shot stopping in this formation clearly isn’t the point, and there will be games when that becomes more important, but can’t fault him for shots he wasn’t forced to save.


Absolutely, he’s playing a lot different than he is used to and doing well. It was nice to see him between the CBs as a passing option; the few times he went out of his box were also calculated, good on his part.


I was also pleased with Tyler, though god I wish Birnbaum had ever developed that aspect of his game. So many times Santos was looking for a pass in acres of space in the channel, and all Birnbaum needed to do was play it to him hard on the ground. Instead he frequently chose to go back, maybe at the direction of Wayne, but gosh any center back these days would be able to play a ball to a completely unmarked man in midfield.

[…] D.C. United’s 1-1 draw with Orlando City by us and WaPo. Mane Land with the other end of […]

Bryan McEachern

Durkin ripped it. Period. We should have won hand’s down, but didn’t have the fortune. So much better than last year, for sure (supply untranslatable scouse with mixture of profanity).


On a completely separate topic, the investigation in to the Berhalter-Reyna affair has finished and been made public. Claudio Reyna ends up looking very bad. No wonder he resigned from Austin.


Also, Durkin made the starting side for MLS Team of the Matchday

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