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.
- 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.
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′)
D.C. United: Asad 65′, Ruan 87′
Orlando City SC: Smith 77′
Featured image courtesy of D.C. United, Hannah Wagner