D.C. United returned home from a massively successful road trip to win 3-0 over Charlotte FC in front of a crowd of 19,215.

Charlotte put the pressure on D.C. from the whistle, controlling possession and putting the Black-and-Red on the backfoot. When Andy Najar attempted to turn the tide back in D.C.’s favor, a collision with Kerwin Vargas saw him booked with a yellow in the 9′.

Despite being five deep on the back line, and the Black-and-Red struggled to hold off Charlotte and get onto the ball, with Charlotte claiming about 75% of the possession for the first 15 minutes. Although they held the majority of possession, Charlotte didn’t manage to create any substantial chances, at least at first.

After testing D.C.’s defenses early on, Charlotte finally found a way through on the counter. Victor Pálsson stepped up to save the Black-and-Red in the 19′ with a block that denied Karol Świderski in the center of the box.

Świderski wasn’t giving up. In the 22′, he found a waiting Vargas in the box, who fired a rocket that had Audi Field holding its collective breath. Fortunately, his shot sailed over the crossbar.

D.C. had a whiff of hope in the 27′ when they managed to get behind Charlotte’s back line. Najar found Christian Benteke with a cross. However, traffic proved too much. Benteke was quickly dispossessed, and although the Black-and-Red tried to find a chance for a rebound, they were stymied by Charlotte players that seemingly multiplied in the final third.

In the 31′, Taxi Fountas was downed in the box by Derrick Jones. Despite a suspected foul, referee Ismir Pekmic let play continue as the sound of outrage echoed through the stadium. The Black-and-Red were finally awarded the penalty, and Fountas stepped up to convert, firing a shot past George Marks to open the scoring.

Fountas’ goal electrified the stadium and gave the Black-and-Red a much-needed lift. Connections noticeably improved with a goal locked in and D.C. headed into the half with a lead despite the tenuous start.

Captain Steve Birnbaum took a few hard knocks during the first 45′ that saw him replaced by Derrick Williams in the 50′. Birnbaum regularly logs 90′ with ease. Of his status, Wayne Rooney said, “he took a bang on his hip. So he was really struggling and I said to him, I know Steve would play on and try and play on, but I said to him at halftime, ‘don’t try and be a hero if you’re really struggling’…We will monitor over the next few days and hopefully he’ll be okay for next week.”

Back in action in the second half, the Black-and-Red continued to take pressure from Charlotte, being pushed back into their defensive half. Although D.C. was able to create a few breakaways, they came to naught, with Charlotte outpacing the Black-and-Red. Both Donovan Pines and Lewis O’Brien managed chances in the 54′, but missed their opportunities.

Charlotte took advantage of width, and McKinzie Gaines, in particular, was a menace to D.C., weaving his way through traffic to challenge D.C. repeatedly. But, the Black-and-Red managed to regain the front foot a bit as the second half wore on, a zippy Charlotte flagging just enough to allow an opening for the home side,

In the 69′ D.C. United was able to mount a counter-attack that saw Andy Najar speeding down the wing. He outpaced Charlotte and found a waiting Taxi Fountas in front of the goal. Fountas took a touch, but the shot went wide, much to the chagrin of every Black-and-Red supporter. The game remained chippy with 22 total fouls by the 70′, Charlotte and D.C. United going toe-to-toe in search of the advantage.

Christan Benteke doubled D.C.’s lead in the 75′ with a gravity-defying bicycle kick to catch out George Marks and propel Charlotte into desperation mode. What started out as a tepid match for the Black-and-Red turned into a tenacious second half; a switch flipped.

Not satisfied with merely one goal, Benteke found the back of the net again with a clinical finish in the 84′. Sadly, the flag was up, dashing hopes of a brace for Benteke to round out the match. When asked about the play, he told The District Press, “It was just instinct. I think a lot of strikers play with instinct. The moment you think it becomes harder for you to do this kind of gesture…I was just hoping to have a good contact. Like I said, just hit the target.”

The Black-and-Red went on the offense, playing for a third goal and pulling out all the stops. In the end, it was Jacob Greene, a homegrown player, who tied a bow on the match, capturing a rebound to score the final goal in stoppage time. A smiling Greene told The District Press, “I saw Lewis [O’Brien] with the ball out on the left side. I just saw a lot of space to start running. It was a high moment. It was just a fun, fun moment.” Greene’s goal was met by the entire team joining him to celebrate, the joy palpable.

D.C. United heads back out on the road to face FC Cincinnati at TQL Stadium on May 6 at 7:30 pm ET.

Watch the highlights from D.C. United vs. Charlotte FC

Box Score

MLS Regular Season – Game 10

D.C. United: 3 Fountas 34′ (penalty), Benteke 75′, Greene 90′ + 5′

Charlotte FC: 0


D.C. United: Tyler Miller, Andy Nájar (Jacob Greene 87′), Pedro Santos, Steve Birnbaum (Derrick Williams 50′), Donovan Pines, Russell Canouse, Lewis O’Brien, Mateusz Klich (Chris Durkin 87′), Victor Pálsson, Taxi Fountas (Ted Ku-DiPietro 70′), Christian Benteke

Charlotte FC: George Marks, Nathan Byrne, Harrison Afful (Chris Hegardt 81′), Adilson Malanda, Ashley Westwood, Brandt Bronico (Hamady Diop 90′), Derrick Jones, Enzo Copetti, Karol Świderski, McKinze Gaines, Kerwin Vargas (Justin Meram 64′)

Misconduct Summary

D.C. United: Najar 9′, Benteke 43′

Charlotte FC: Jones 63′, Gaines 74′

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

BySarah Kallassy

Managing Editor

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Stunned Duck

It was a 5-3-2 straight out of the 1980s or 90s*, but after an uninspired half hour at the start, the team found footing and consistently had the upper hand the rest of the way. Things got a little bit silly in the last 20 minutes b/c Charlotte psychologically deflated after Benteke’s goal, but it was nice to be able to just have fun with a game… I thought Benteke exemplified the sensation when the disallowance of his second goal merely brought out a wide “well, that’s just the way it goes” smile from him.

The scoring will get the headlines, but it’s the defense that I’m happiest with. This was the one area where I thought Rooney was definitely showing significant positive impact by the beginning of this month, and I think that trend is continuing. Early on we kept putting ourselves in bad positions through turnovers and balls to nowhere, but apart from a couple of 1v1 miscues the defense held its ground, and then as the game progressed and we got the spacing and movement dialed in, our center backs opened up and started to play assertively and with confidence. This was the best game I’ve seen from Palsson in our colors, Pines has definitely stabilized compared to last year, and Williams slotted right in after Birnbaum’s departure without anyone missing a beat. Add in Miller’s calm and productive distribution and Canouse’s excellent work breaking up opposing moves down the middle, and the result was an ever-tightening noose that neutered Charlotte’s pace and almost entirely blocked them out from good scoring positions.

I think we still have quite a bit of work to do with our progression through midfield. There’s too much of a tendency to rely on Benteke’s (top-notch) target man skills in lieu of well-worked passing sequences**, the general lack of pace still presents problems, and a better opponent would have punished us for our bad spacing and bad choices in the early going, which could easily have led to a completely different outcome. But, these are issues for another day. A good win, with some very entertaining moments, and a much better feeling leaving the stadium than I had three weeks ago.

* I mean, yes, I realize that the play out of the back didn’t look anything like we would have seen 30 years ago, and the selectively applied press was quite modern, but overall the shape, spacing, and division of labor was a real blast from the past.

** Which is not to say that they are never doing the latter.

Michael Carter

I’d just add on the defensive side of things they look a lot more organized when defending higher up the field. At times when playing out of a mid-block in the early part of the season there was just too much space in between the lines to exploit (in addition to space on the wings we always seem to concede tactically). Hopefully the change of shape and a bit better team form will pay dividends as the season continues.

This was a side conceding 2+ GA/g in the early portion of the season. Over the past few games they’ve been defending well, especially through limiting not just the quality of chances but sheer number of them. ORL had a flurry of chances in the second half of that game, including those DC has only conceded 2.66 shots on goal (against) per game over this three game winning stretch.

I certainly don’t expect the prolific finishing to last (we need to create more chances), but maybe this stiffling defensive effort, especially through organized pressure in the middle third of the field can be sustained more often than not.


Agreed that the team needs to figure out how to build up some attacks. The possession isn’t there yet, because the movement off the ball isn’t good, and the passing isn’t good either. In the first 10 minutes, I’d bet that Charlotte had 90% of the possession, and it didn’t get much better in the next 10 minutes. That PK goal really made a difference.

On defense, there’s one thing I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere — and that’s how crucial Benteke has been in defending on set plays, especially corner kicks. Other players have struggled sometimes to clear the ball, but not Benteke. He soars over the attackers and heads it clear. Immense.


Lovely game to watch, to see the Good Guys pile on some goals. I have a couple of thoughts:

First, I’ll never nominate Tyler Miller as one of the top 10 best shot stoppers in MLS. We got spoiled having Bill Hamid here. But boy is Tyler Miller a great sweeper keeper. His distribution was excellent this match. His touches with the ball were very good–at no point was I getting antsy thinking “get rid of it, you’re playing with fire, c’mon!” like I do with a lot of sweeper keepers.

Second, lost in all the hoopla about a bunch of individual players (who deserved those accolades) is that Donovan Pines had himself one helluva game. When the big man is “on” and not making a couple of unforced mental or judgment errors per game, he’s a force. His size, strength, quickness, speed, and yes–technical skills–make him a handful. Pines is potentially turning out to be to our backline what Benteke means to our frontline (a guy who’s reliable, physically imposing, and difficult to handle).

Third, Palsson seems to work best in a 3 CB alignment.

Fourth, watch the entire buildup to the Greene goal–it’s lovely stuff. That’s what Rooney probably initially envisioned with this team in the preseason. And it gladdens my heart to see how the team went crazy when Greene scored his goal. Even Miller ran 50 yards upfield to pound his back in congratulations. To me, that speaks of a team culture that loves to see teammates succeed, and a bunch of veteran players who don’t see the young guys as threats or not relevant to them right now. But instead support and encourage and reward the youngsters. And that’s a culture that will grow young players.


We fortunately haven’t had a match where he’s been peppered with good shots, so still judging his peak shot-stopping. But Miller’s been a great presence in the back. He made a very good save (kudos to Palsson for making the other good one) and seems to judge dead balls pretty well. I said on the other thread, I think, that his passing has really impressed me. I don’t know another guy in the league that has been hitting those intermediate/long passes at the rate that Miller has. Discounting last season (since Hamid would definitely have been starting if healthy), this has been a much smoother transition between keeper than I’m used to as a United fan.

Brendan Cartwright

I think I saw at the end of the game that Taxi was grinning and doing Benteke’s goal celebration. The mood of the team is definitely good, and those strikers seem like they’re getting on together well (although there’s still room for them to connect better on the field).

The team is mostly getting its goals from its DPs and its homegrowns, and I think the large number of homegrowns helps because they’re used to playing with each other, and the veterans like to see the kids do well.


All I have to say is good things come in threes it seems.

David Rusk

Back watching a match in person v four on MLS Apple in Argentina , some thoughts:

DCU turned the match around when they began pressing Charlotte higher up the field after the first 25 minutes.

Christian Benteke can do it all. Plus he’s the only field player that has played every minute of every match. What a signing!

Mateusz Klich does a helluva lot of hard running, especially on defense. I’d expect that of 24 year old Lewis O’Brien but 32 year old Klich!!!

DCU did an extraordinarily professional job of killing off the match in the last ten minutes. Greene’s 96th minute goal was icing on the cake.

The biggest play of the match was Miller’s late first half, point blank save when on a Charlotte corner, some DCU defender (Pines?) headed the ball down right in the middle of the six yard box. A Charlotte goal out of that mistaken mess would have made it 1-1 at that point.

Somehow, my walk between Waterfront Metro and Buzzard Point was sprightlier after a 3-0 win than before the match.


To watch Klich on the field is to see why he got an Honor Guard in his last match with Leeds. Mad respect for that guy. He puts in the work and the effort, plays smart, supports his teammates, works on both sides of the ball. He’s a blue-collar A-mid.

David Rusk

Amen to all that. Another excellent signing. Actually our three DPs in the Rooney era are all great choices. Though Taxi predates Rooney’s arrival, Taxi is the guy from the DCU roster that Rooney would have picked as a hypothetical teammate at Man U.


Well… Benteke has grown into his role, too — though mostly because he’s getting much better service lately than he had before. Klich has been outstanding from the start. Fountas was fabulous last year. It’s been a struggle so far for him — the finishing isn’t there yet, but he’s helped make Benteke a much more impactful player.

Our erstwhile DP — Palsson — this is the first game that I’ve been really happy with Palsson’s play (but I wouldn’t say it’s DP-worthy — glad he isn’t occupying a DP slot now).


Playoff position.

***Jim Mora voice***:

“The Playoffs??!!?? Don’t talk about playoffs. You kidding me? Playoffs???”


In all seriousness, though. Tied on points with Orlando for 7th place — final automatic qualifying spot. Orlando have a game in hand, but I can see DC staying ahead of them, if we can stay healthy (and, either sign O’Brien or bring in someone at that level or higher in the summer). Philly is 3 back but with a game in hand. Hard to believe DCU will stay ahead of Philly, Toronto will put in a serious challenge for the top 9 (8 & 9 have a play-in match). I think DCU could be in good shape come October to finish in the top 9, but won’t be easy. Top 7? Not seeing it yet. Passing Columbus? Maybe.

Last edited 7 months ago by Fischy

Honestly even narrowing missing 9th place is better than most pundits had DC at.


To be fair, it’s easier to make the MLS playoffs in 2023 than the NFL playoffs in 2001.

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