D.C. United has returned to winning ways with a second road win in a row, this time with a 3-1 decimation of Orlando City SC. While tonight’s heroes include Taxi Fountas, Donovan Pines, and Christian Benteke, D.C.’s victory was truly a class act.
Black-and-Red supporters’ patience is being rewarded as Wayne Rooney’s ongoing rebuild of the club is finally paying dividends. With a two-win streak in the books, on the road nonetheless, is providing hope for the season as D.C. climbs up the Eastern Conference standings and now sits comfortably in 8th.
Orlando City has been a tough team to beat so far this 2023 season, most recently notching a convincing win on the road in Minnesota. In front of a stalwart home crowd at Exploria Stadium, the Black-and-Red knew they would have their work cut out for them.
Rooney and the team didn’t take preparation for the match lightly. “The preparation was obviously very difficult this week to prepare because we knew they played a back four quite a lot. And the previous game knew, they played Minnesota and won away from home in the back three. So, we weren’t quite sure which way they were gonna go. We stuck with what we were doing. We stuck with the team that beat Montréal last week for us, believed in that, and asked them to go do it again. So, it was more about us than Orlando.”
Spoiler alert. The belief paid off.
Capitalizing on a turnover early in the first half Christian Benteke deftly moved the ball into enemy territory for D.C. United to a waiting Ruan on the right wing. The former Orlando City player found a waiting Taxi Fountas just outside the box, where he fired a rocket past a stunned Pedro Gallese to open the scoring in the 15′. Fountas has scored in every match he’s played against the Lions.
Oscár Pareja’s Orlando hasn’t been an easy team to face this season, and as predicted, the first-round draft pick Duncan McGuire spelled trouble for the Black-and-Red. A failed challenge from Lewis O’Brien gave the Lions the opening they needed to mount an attack against D.C. United, allowing Antônio Carlos and Martín Ojeda to slot a ball through to McGuire on the fast break. McGuire went toe to toe with Tyler Miller before ruining the goalkeeper’s chance at a clean sheet in the 23′ with his second goal in two weeks.
When D.C. United and Orlando went to their respective locker rooms level at the half it was a sure indication that the second half would be fiery as the teams searched for the game-winner. The Black-and-Red did not disappoint.
An unmarked Donovan Pines made the most of a set piece situation to reclaim D.C. United’s lead in the 53′. Sprinting into Mateusz Klich’s corner kick and taking to the air, Pines’ header caught out Gallese at the near post.
A 2-1 lead is the most dangerous sort, so D.C. United’s own danger man Christian Benteke resolved the situation in short order. It took Benteke three short, calculated touches – first to win the ball with his chest, second to guide the ball toward his right foot, and third to fire a shot through traffic and into the back of Orlando’s net in the 62′. Benteke didn’t even bother to take a look at the goal.
Orlando coach Pareja admitted to how troublesome D.C. United’s style of play was. He said, “It’s difficult when you have to play against the model that creates that many barriers. And they have eight players in front of a few, and we couldn’t find a way to break that. And then, when they were leading the game, it was even worse. Because you start with urgency, trying to break them up and try to create spaces and try to score goals, and you add in a disadvantage. And then they score, and you look erratic.”
For the Black-and-Red, it was nothing but smiles post-match and we’re all ready for them to bring that home when they return to Audi Field to face Charlotte FC on April 29 at 7:30 pm ET.
- Taxi Fountas is BACK. Scoring his first goal of the season for D.C. United, Taxi Fountas has truly returned. The striker was out recovering from a hamstring injury and was sorely missed on the pitch. The designated player joined the Black-and-Red midseason in 2022 and scored 12 goals over 21 matches.
- Glimpses of the future. With back-to-back wins on the road, supporters are seeing head coach Wayne Rooney’s vision take shape at last.
- Christian Benteke’s quality is unmatched. Benteke put in another high-quality performance for the Black-and-Red that has us watching the lead-up to his 62′ goal on repeat.
MLS Regular Season – Game 9
Orlando City SC: 1 McGuire 23′
D.C. United: 3 Fountas 15′, Pines 53”, Benteke 62′
Orlando City SC: Pedro Gallese, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel (Rafael Santos 65′), Gaston Gonzalez, Antonio Carlos, Cesar Araujo, Mauricio Pereyra (Dagur Thorhallsson 68′), Ivan Angulo, Martin Ojeda (Ercan Kara 65′), Duncan McGuire (Ramiro Enrique 52′), Facundo Torres
D.C. United: Tyler Miller, Ruan (Andy Najar 61′), Pedro Santos, Steven Birnbaum, Donovan Pines, Russell Canouse, Lewis O’Brien (Jackson Hopkins 87′), Mateusz Klich (Chris Durkin 79′), Victor Pálsson, Taxi Fountas (Yamil Asad 79′), Christian Benteke
Orlando City SC: Angulo 27′, Carlos 56′, Araujo 90′ + 1′
D.C. United: Ruan 11′, Klich 42′, Canouse 74′, Pines 85′
Featured image courtesy of D.C. United.