D.C. United overcame LA Galaxy 3-0 at Audi Field in front of a sold-out home crowd of 19,205 in a return to winning ways.
Capitalizing on LA’s defensive impatience, the Black-and-Red put in a convincing performance. LA still has never won a match at Audi Field, having last lost 2-1 to D.C. United in August of 2019 when Quincy Amarikwa famously taunted legend Zlatan Ibrahimović.
Despite a long injury list and tired legs, the Black-and-Red were dominant throughout the first half, maintaining their grit through the pouring rain at Audi Field. LA Galaxy was on the back foot before the match even started, coming off of cross-country travel and a midweek matchup. It was evident LA was tired. the Black-and-Red made quick work of the holes in their defense to set up chance after chance in the first 45′.
Mateusz Klich struck in the 27′ with a shot from outside the box toward the top corner. Unfortunately, Jonathan Bond saved the shot to deny him. On D.C’s side of the pitch, Donovan Pines, in particular, held it down to provide critical support to Tyler Miller throughout the first half. Pines has truly come into his own this 2023 season, becoming indispensable to D.C.’s backline.
While LA did its share of testing Tyler Miller, its efforts didn’t come to fruition. Miller easily saved shots by Gastón Brugman in the 14′ and Riqui Puig in the 21′.
Referee Fotis Bazakos had his hands full as D.C. and LA chased the opening goal, going toe to toe in an increasingly chippy half. Although the effort was there, the match remained scoreless. The Black-and-Red and Galaxy headed to the locker rooms, ready to take on the next 45′.
Christian Benteke appeared to have opened the scoring in the 67′ when he fired a shot past Bond at close range, but Bazakos declared him offside. Black-and-Red supporters didn’t have long to worry, though. Benteke made good on his promised goal moments later, slipping a ball past Bond into the lower right-hand corner of the net.
Wayne Rooney said, “It was a pretty tight game, so the first goal is always going to be vital, and thankfully we got it.”
Cristian Dájome, assisted by Benteke, flung in a left-footed shot to double D.C. United’s lead in the 73′. A jubilant Audi Field erupted in cheers, and supporters took to their feet. This is the newcomer from Vancouver’s first goal in Black-and-Red.
Raheem Edwards tried to find the back of the net for LA in the 76′ but was handily shut down by a sharp Tyler Miller.
Mateusz Klich found the net himself in the 80′, snagging a rebound and firing a shot into the lower right-hand corner of the net to the roars of the home crowd. He took a moment to pay homage to Rooney, doing the coach’s signature goal celebration. Rooney was amused, saying, “He’s keeping it alive.”
Chicharito and Daniel Aguirre would seek further opportunities for LA in the 85′ and 90′ + 3′ respectively, but Tyler Miller held on to preserve a clean sheet for D.C. United.
Things are only looking up for the Black-and-Red with the impending return of key players and an incredible team effort. Rooney said, “We’ve got Steve, Taxi, Andy, and Pedro potentially all back fit. But what the lads have been playing, what they’ve done is to make it very difficult for me to take anyone off the team, so that’s great. Great competition for places. But no, I was delighted. It might be the first time in my career I’ve managed to play the same team back to back.”
D.C. United heads out on a road trip and will first face Toronto FC at BMO Stadium on May 27 at 7:30 pm ET.
- Lewis O’Brien is a creative mastermind. A true standout for his performance against the Galaxy, Lewis O’Brien gave a masterclass in unselfish, creative play., putting his body on the line to set up his teammates for scoring opportunities throughout the match. O’Brien said, “You can see the way that we’re playing is just miles better. It was just a matter of time until we did get the three points, and we did get the goals.”
- Where it ended for LA. It was all over for the LA Galaxy once Benteke finally struck. The Black-and-Red swiftly destroyed any chance LA had at a comeback with subsequent goals by Dájome and Klich.
- You’ve got to stay in the game. For Wayne Rooney, winning over the Galaxy was a matter of organization and steadfastness. He said, “We’ve been watching obviously the last week or so now. I just felt if we were organized and, as I said, stayed in the game, we’d have a really good chance of winning it because they are quite open defensively in terms of their organization and the shape. They tend to have some players working and some players not working. You can really take advantage of that. It was important for us tonight to just stay organized and with them openings to come to take advantage of them.”
Watch the highlights from D.C. United vs. LA Galaxy
MLS Regular Season – Game 14
D.C. United: 3
LA Galaxy: 0
D.C. United: Tyler Miller, Gaoussou Samake (Jacob Greene 82′), Donovan Pines, Derrick Williams, Victor Pálsson, Chris Durkin, Lewis O’Brien, Russell Canouse (Brendan Hines-Ike 89′), Mateusz Klich (Yamil Asad 89′), Ted Ku-DiPietro (Cristian Dájome 68′), Christian Benteke (Kristian Fletcher 89′)
LA Galaxy: Jonathan Bond, Calegari, Martín Cáceres, Jalen Neal (Eriq Zavaleta 84′), Julián Aude (Uri Rosell 84′), Riqui Puig, Gastón Brugman (Daniel Aguirre 84′), Mark Delgado, Tyler Boyd (Raheem Edwards 63′), Memo Rodríguez (Dejan Joveljic 75′), Chicharito
D.C. United: Pines 65′, Cristian Dájome 90′
LA Galaxy: Rodríguez 45′ + 1′, Delgado 87′
Featured image courtesy of D.C. United.
LA did not play like a last place team for most of the match; but Rooney’s praise for our patience and focus was right on target… we were still playing the same way in minute 75, and they weren’t. And that, basically, was the ballgame.
Once we discovered a formation that would allow our existing talent, with strengths and weaknesses, to effectively play the way Wayne wants (i.e. after the minor debacle of the 4/8 Columbus match), the good coaching work has been shining through. The whole team is bright, alert, and on the same page… and we bring it for the whole 90, even in a busy week and with several guys out injured.
O’Brien will go *poof* in the summer, and Wayne will go *poof* in the fall, and the whole thing could collapse like an undercooked souffle at either point, but it was nice to beat a team we ought to beat, and do it with confidence.
I missed the first 35 minutes, thanks to traffic and rain (and a friend driving who was late), but LA looked terribly outclassed from what I saw. That’s good for our side, but maybe not get ahead of ourselves. We’ve climbed a little in the standings, but a number of the teams behind DCU have a game in hand. There’s work to do, but this team is markedly different from and better than the side that started the year.
One of the key differences is O’Brien. He’s not extraordinary, but he does a lot of things which tilt the field. When I saw him running up to pressure Bond, with Benteke cutting off the passing lane on O’Brien’s right, I thought something might happen, and it did. Will he definitely leave in July? Maybe he signs back in England, with a loan back until the end of our season? He seems to like playing here. Fully committed.
I might say the same about Rooney. Let’s say he restores his reputation by pushing DC United up the standings. Will he jump ship in the summer? If he stays to see it through — well, that throws him into an awkward timing — waiting around for a mid-season opening in England. Not a great situation to jump into. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him stick around another year, with Benteke, Klich, Fountas, Birnbaum, etc. under contract, and still effective. With that core, he might see a chance to win a trophy here.
We’re not that far off. Maybe no Mukhtar or Lucho-level talent, but maybe that could come, if DCU could score some Garberbucks and bring down the cap-hit for players like Birnbaum, Dájome and Palsson, and maybe Fountas? For the money, Fountas should be a Mukhtar or Lucho-level player, but he’s not there. I was surprised to be impressed with Dájome, but he certainly brought real danger to the attack. I’d be really intrigued to see him line up with Benteke and Fountas up top. Could be really dynamic. Might allow Klich to be shifted back to fill a similar role to O’Brien if/when he leaves.
We may not have an MVP-level star, but this team is developing a lot of good pieces. Are we as deep as New England, Philly, Seattle or LAFC? Of course not, but the gap is narrowing.
Benteke is obviously the focal point for the attack — honestly, he’s far more effective as the hold-up guy, setting up others. He’s still incredibly wasteful in front of the goal. Missed at least 2 chances which should’ve been goals in the 2nd half. Early on, he wasn’t getting good service. We can’t say that now. The chances are there. Having said that, he’s the man. Ride him.
We were going to need some folks at the bottom half of the roster to step up, and Jacob Greene and Gaoussou Samake have both done a great job of that. Teddy KDP and Kristian Fletcher have also shown some moments. With Santos and Najar coming back, and then Birnbaum and Hines-Ike returning, the defense is going to be pretty darn stacked, especially with Palsson performing well in right centerback.
Yah, the first half hour was LA’s best part of the match, so that would tilt your impression a bit. There seems to be quite a bit of variance in everyone’s perspective on what they were doing last night… I think the best synthesis I can come up with is that they were a well-organized, sensibly-minded team playing a not-very-sensible formation and style, mostly focused on covering up their weaknesses and consequently unable to generate real threats going forward. They did quite a good job in the first half of controlling the pace of a road match, and made it just as hard for us to move through their midfield as we were making it hard for them.
With Forest staying up and Wayne still being married, I think the probabilities of either situation bending our way are under 5%, but obvs we’ll find out soon enough.
Maybe Rooney leaves after this season. I think that’s dependent upon how the team does–if we go far in to the playoffs, he may feel that MLS can’t offer him more to boost his coaching credentials and leave. But I’m not so quick to believe that this success will just collapse when those two people go.
Yeah LA is a good team that’s struggling. Soon, Vanney will be gone and their fortunes will turn. They did manage to beat LAFC, and that bought Vanney some more time, but something’s missing and the manager will have to go.
LAG is not a good team. But boy was that nice. We continue to play well as a team, show patience and confidence.
That is a win that a playoff team pulls out. A non playoff team either settles for the 0-0 draw or gets counterattacked for a 0-1 loss.
I’d just like to point out that I think we’ve basically played every major formation out there, excluding some of the weirder ones. Maybe you could argue we haven’t resorted to a 4-2-3-1, but we’ve definitely played:
That’s kinda wild, considering Rooney’s MO as well as the fact that normally, teams stick to two, max. I just think that’s quite a lot, and glad Rooney seems to be able to coach these structures and the players have been responding.
Coaching concepts is so much more difficult than telling guys “you’re the right back, go up and down.” But Rooney really seems to have done it with this group. No matter what nominal formation we’re playing, our defense looks sound and the players seem to have an idea of what to do when they win the ball.
How about Samake? LA was looking at him as a press point and he was cool as you like. Turned it over twice but pretty much everyone does that. I was impressed anyway.
I’ve definitely been impressed by Samake. He looked really overmatched in his very few appearances last year, and I figured it was a sure thing he was gone in the offseason (free up that international slot!). But he’s done quite well for being the last string option. He’s even pushed Jacob Greene to the bench, and Greene has been showing well too.
I don’t know that he contributes that much to the offense, but he’s got speed, and usually provides an outlet at least. And he hasn’t been a liability defensively. He’s proved me wrong, for sure.
He’s a mixed bag defensively, not the best 1v1 defender and makes some questionable decisions, though he does use his athleticism to good effect when recovering from errors. Wingback suits him considerably better than fullback did last year… while he certainly does look to exploit the possibilities of open solo runs down the flank, I get the sense he is most comfortable working the triangles, and likes the way that a 3-5-2 shape gives him a coordinating partner in all phases of play. Certainly made a case to get more looks.
DC United is now #10 in the Supporter’s Shield. Top Third!
Technically that’s almost top third (29 teams), but misleading too since they’re 15th, I think, in points per game. Mathematically that’s just outside top half, but it is the median side. More importantly, they’re definitely climbing. I could definitely see them getting past Columbus and Orlando in PPG, and even catching Atlanta to be a solid 5th in the East, and maybe 10th overall.
Some thoughts from Buzzard Point last night:
1) I continue to be impressed with how well Pines, Williams and Palsson continue to play together. With Hines Ike back (first MLS minutes last night) and Birnbaum on the mend, we have five very competent center backs, if not an MLS XI level individually.
2) you have to see the match in person to appreciate how much and how hard Mateusz Klich runs. I happy to see him score his second Buzzard Point as a reward for such hard work. European retirement league, my foot!
3) the much anticipated “finished” roof leaks. Not over my seats in Row 12, Section 126 on the West Side but just a few seats further down our row the drip was constant. Unacceptable.
4) on the other hand, kudos to DCU management for handing out thousands of white DCU ponchos to all fans in the uncovered Chico Stand, South End, and the pricey club seats on the East Side.
5) a “sellout” of 19,215 must count total tickets sold. A still very respectable crowd for such crummy weather.
6) Rooney’s coaching really shows by this point in the season— a well organized, highly motivated squad.
We’re all rightfully gushing about how good O’Brien has been and how much we’ll miss him even his loan expires. I think we’ll feel exactly the same if Klich needs to take any time off. Yes he’s a hard worker, but he’s also so important to linking up the backline and our attackers. Last year, attacks just died with the center backs because no one knew how to advance the ball, or they just lost it as soon as it got to the halfway line. Pretty much everyone has improved by orders of magnitudes, and it’s partly because we have guys who can maintain possession and make the right pass, like Klich.
Being able to have two players in the midfield that are such hard workers and so ball secure has been a real boon to United. Hard to really remember when we’ve had that luxury.
In the industry, they count sell-outs by number of tickets sold. The turnstile count is considered a different statistic. The business office regards them as distinct metrics.
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Some intriguing statistics from WhoScored.
Christian Benteke rated 8.6 (out of 10) for the match, which is the highest I have seen for a long time.
Donovan Pines had 71 passes and 91 percent completion rate. This is encouraging give past history.
Mateus Klich is rated 8.2 just behind Benteke. His chip to Djome and then getting the rebound through hustle was outstanding.
Surprisingly, Tyle Miller is rated 8.1 and had an 86 percent pass completion rate, very high for a goalkeeper. His distribution was great but almost blew it on one play. But almost doesn’t count.
Lewis Obrien had 96 pass completion rate and Durkin was 92 percent.
The perception that the team is passing better is reinforced by the data!
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