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.

Three Takeaways

  • 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.

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

Box Score

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

Misconduct Summary

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.

BySarah Kallassy

Managing Editor

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Talonesque #

Definitely have a lot of thoughts on the game, still collecting them a bit, but here’s a short unrelated thing: tune into Newcastle vs Tottenham, it’s 5-0 21 minutes in, and I think this is the one that breaks the concession record

Bryan McEachern

I had my Newcastle jersey on, went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and was up 5-0……
Whoa! Pour me some brown ale.


Think you’ll find that’s illegal in Saudi Arabia.

Michael Carter

Missed the first pair of goals for either side, but otherwise what I saw was a very professional road performance. Much better than last week. Defensivley a bit more sound than usual this season. Biggest threats for ORL seemed to come from sloppy turnovers or transition moments, which has been a bit of a theme for DC this year. Need to work on that and create more chances. I doubt we will be as prolific on as few of shots in all future games this year.

David Rusk

From Buenos Aires: I’ll be on hand in person to watch DC United pile up some Buzzard Points against Charlotte next Saturday for a third win in a row.

And when would be the last time three wins in a row happened, Brendan? Second half of 2018, I’ll bet.

David Rusk

And then for the Washington Spirit on Sunday. They’ve been blacked out in Buenos Aires because I have yet to make Paramount + work.

Bet I’ve been the farthest south fan of DC United and the Spirit here in the Deep South.

Bryan McEachern

Something is in the air, David. My buddy Andy and I won senior flight at our golf club in the annual member-member on Saturday. -8. These are pleasant times, indeed.

Brendan Cartwright

Last time we won three in a row was in 2020. Away at Cincinnati (2-1), away at Atlanta (2-1), home against Columbus (1-0). The glorious coaching reign of Chad Ashton!


That was a very professional road win. Just to show how hard those are to come by, just ask the Red Bulls as they lost to a below average Montréal team at Stade Saputo.

The biggest thing I liked was the backs and Benteke. Benteke is just so talented and a joy to watch. I never understood those fans who dogged him.

I liked that the backs stayed narrow while the outside mids tracked to deal with stuff down the flanks. That is the only way a 3 man back line can work. Otherwise, a 3 man back line just gets picked apart like last year. It was good to see the team start to understand how to work together when the other team had possession.

Fountas and Benteke are still learning each other and they will get there. They are both learning to work off Klich, O Brian, and Canouse. That side of the ball is still a work in progress. You saw flashes of it but it’s not all there yet.

I liked the substitutions. I am glad to see the young guys get to run combined with the possession and IQ of Asad. I am glad DC United picked him up after Losada just didn’t rate him. I am also glad that Rooney is able to adjust his overall tactics to different specific circumstances. I respect that. I have no patience for coaches who whine that the players can’t implement their genius system.

Celebrate the three points, enjoy the gradual progress. Still plenty to work on.


Honestly very surprised and impressed with Asad. Hasn’t played consistently in ages and is already performing better than guys we had on the roster last year.

Good points on our use of the 3 ATB. Notable difference between us now and under Losada is that they don’t look like they’re panicking any time the ball gets in our half. Rooney also seems to be giving Pines some freedom to get aggressive and take advantage of his absurd recovery speed.


Love the happy dance from Donovan Pines on that goal. He was a kid again…

Brendan Cartwright

It was remarkable, in that his celebration seemed to encapsulate his style of play. Gangly in a way that you’ve never really seen before, but effective nonetheless.

Talonesque #

I’m pleased with Rooney that he was finally willing to ditch the high line 4-4-2 that did nothing for anyone. If that sounds like a back handed compliment, let me just say, it takes grace to admit that an idea like that doesn’t work. When we trotted it out in the first game, I had never seen anything exactly like it in my soccer viewing life, and now, I can safely say I probably never have to see it again, and that’s alright. I don’t remember Rooney employing a 5-3-2 in any of the lineups he was noted to use at Derby County, but he’s figured out a number of things that benefit the current personnel. I’d definitely like him to continue to conform a little more to how the midfield structure works best- it’s two 6’s and a 10 to protect the backline, I honestly thought O’Brien’s giveaway had as much to do with the position he took up to receive that ball as his poor touch, but with trial and error the three midfielders will figure out that balance.

To be honest, it’s not my favorite formation to watch, but it’s a couple tiers past the turgid 4-4-2 of before, so fine. At this point, I’m aware we likely don’t have the personnel for my favorite brand of attacking soccer, but yeah, results will do. I don’t agree that this is newfound success is a natural progression of the squad, it literally took us ditching a whole philosophy for three halves to do it. I’m glad that we can play, now let’s find ways to incorporate promising homegrown a bit more.

Talonesque #

And yeah, I was wrong about my predictions for Benteke. He’s getting more robust with every game this season.


My tip of the hat to you on that post. It takes a grown up to say that. Respect.

Talonesque #

That’s honestly a continuation of the patronization I’ve seen in other posts. I think you can do better. 🤷‍♂️



I genuinely meant it. I may disagree with some of your interpretations but have never questioned the sincerity of your opinions. I was genuinely trying to be polite.

If Coach Losada had ended up coaching a winning team and I was forced to eat crow, I like to think I’d be big enough to do what you just did (for the record, I predicted that his system would burn the players out and require lots and lots of turnover like the Red Bulls). I genuinely respect your comment and also think we’d get along very well in person despite our different approaches to interpreting DC United games.

You are also free to reply to my posts about why I’m right or wrong and I may reply if I have something to say or not.

Talonesque #

I’d be willing to go into this further off the thread, this feels like a thing that’s not going away.

I’ve created a google account for Talonesque mostly so I could log in quickly. If you want to go into it further, you can email talonesque17@gmail.com.


It’s not that serious. I’ll just refrain from replying to any post you ever make. I’ll stay away from you if you feel that way.

Talonesque #

Knew it.

Will Nelson

Despite the turnover that led to Orlando’s goal last night I love what I’ve seen from O’Brien so far. I think we definitely miss him when he in theory returns to England during the summer.


He’s a bit of a strange one for me. There was one sequence where he was ‘defending’ and he literally just stood and watched while Orlando passed in triangles around him repeatedly while he did nothing. But ultimately, the ball ended up right where it started and I thought to myself is this guy playing chess while I’m playing checkers? I’m used to seeing Durkin or whoever doggedly chase that ball around the triangle, while O’Brien is kind of been here, done this.
I think he’s a different kind of player than I’m used to, and I think and hope he has more to offer.

David Rusk

From The Deep South (Buenos Aires ): I think that it’s notable that Benteke has played every minute of every match (810 minutes) so far. Only field player to do so.


First, such a fine all-around game by Benteke.

Second, a good coach adjusts to the talent he has. I think this 3 CBs with 2 FBs or shuttlers, is what suits us best at the time being.

Third, Pines is truly looking good. And I say that not just because he scored a goal. The mental errors are minimal, he’s a CB with size, quickness, and speed, and he’s fitting in well to compensate for the limitations of Palsson and Birnbaum.

David Rusk

Ditto. And he really has remarkable recovery speed for such a big man. Pines, Benteke and Birnbaum are a formidable trio for set plays on offense.

Brendan Cartwright

He did have one moment where he fired a pass back to Tyler Miller with a lot of velocity. Miller did well to receive it and evade the Orlando press. But that’s just a nit. He’s definitely done well!

Brendan Cartwright

If he gets some confidence to really start being aerially dominant, particularly on offensive corner kicks, then defenses have to decide whether to nullify him, Benteke, or Birnbaum. I don’t think most defenses can really handle three dominant aerial attackers.


That isn’t just a nit. That was boneheaded. Miller saved his ass — even as he did his own crazy bit of dribbling to evade the attacker. Still, he’s done pretty well overall.


The performance of both Pines and Benteke are partially due to the quality of those players and also aided by good coaching that puts them in a position to play to their strengths and hide weaknesses. Although the second part is more dramatic with Pines.

In Benteke’s case, don’t ask him to dribble through the middle of the field. He is excellent at being a target out of the back then dishing to a teammate then getting on something in the box. He had none of that last year, especially with Ravel. He is the best I’ve ever seen in person at creating space inside the box, even better than Zlatan.

In Pines’ case, he is an incredibly gifted defender. He is weaker at distribution. Answer, request that he either makes a square ball to Birnbaum, or a drop to Miller to make that first pass out of the back. Meanwhile, assign him to cover the craftiest, quickest opponents in the other team’s attacking core. Look closer and you now see Birnbaum peel to cover the second man and/or the passing lane while Pines will go deal with 1v1 situations.

This is what I was hoping for with Rooney’s coaching, being able to tweak his game plan to the strengths of the players. Bruce Arena has always been a master at it and Ben Olsen takes that approach too. I was hoping to have that kind of pragmatism and creative flexibility but with a deeper toolkit.

Bryan McEachern

Zlatan says no one is better than Zlatan……
Drop the mike


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