Featured image courtesy of D.C. United // Hannah Wagner
D.C. United won 2-0 over NYCFC in their final match of the regular MLS season. A must-win fixture for the Black-and-Red, relief was palpable as the final whistle sounded at Audi Field.
The good vibes didn’t last long. Directly after the match, head coach Wayne Rooney announced he was leaving the club and returning to England.
In this evening’s press conference, Rooney said, “I will be leaving the club. I think it’s just the right time. I think I’ve done everything I can to try and get the club into playoffs…rom my point of view, I’ve enjoyed my time here. I think it’s helped me it will help me a lot moving forward as a coach. And I just want to say on record to to everyone involved the club – staff, player, I’m grateful and I wish them nothing but success in the future.”
The match played out well for the Black-and-Red, despite a starting XI missing star striker Christian Benteke (the former Crystal Palace player had taken ill). Benteke has been the driving force behind the Black-and-Red’s attack in recent weeks, but the team stepped up to manage play in his absence.
D.C. managed to create forward momentum as the match began – perhaps a bit too much forward momentum – Erik Hurtado found the back of the net but was far offside in the 8′.
In the 27′ Chris Durkin tried a shot from just outside the box. Audi Field went wild as supporters thought he had scored. Referee Fotis Bazakos denied him, saying the shot had been blocked.
Finally, Mateusz Klich came through to put D.C. United on the board in the 45′. Capitalizing on a set piece, Klich slotted a ball in on the left side past Matt Freese.
Another bright spot in the first 45′? Alex Bono and the Black-and-Red defense. Bono denied a steady stream of attempts from NYC, including Kevin O’Toole, Tayvon Gray, and Andrés Perea, giving D.C.’s offense a chance to gain the edge.
Heading to the locker room in the lead, the Black-and-Red would need to carry their tenacity into the second half.
Back on the pitch for the second 45′ things turned chippy. Within the first ten minutes alone, Andy Najar was nursing the bridge of his nose after a hard knock.
Chris Durkin finally had a strike count, as he whipped a ball in past Freese in the 62′ to bring the scoreline to 2-0 as Audi Field erupted in cheers.
Double that lead, Durkin. 🔥— Major League Soccer (@MLS) October 8, 2023
Kicking off the second half, Chris Durkin makes it 2-0 in DC! pic.twitter.com/zfvDaQYJ8C
At the final whistle, D.C. United had pulled out a decisive win to end their regular MLS season matches. D.C. United’s future is uncertain now, but the club has time on its side to begin the search for a new manager and adjust course in the coming months.
We’ll be tuned in to see what happens next.
Watch the highlights from D.C. United vs. NYCFC
D.C. United: 2 Klich 45′, Durkin 62′
D.C. United: Alex Bono, Andy Najar (Ruan 75′), Steven Birnbaum (Derrick Williams 51′), Matai Akinmboni (Hayden Sargis 75′), Éric Davis, Chris Durkin, Russell Canouse (Jackson Hopkins 83′), Mateusz Klich, Gabriel Pirani, Ted Ku-DiPietro, Erik Hurtado
NYCFC: Matt Freese, Birk Risa (Justin Haak 72′), Thiago Martins, Andres Jasson (Julian Fernandez 60′), Kevin O’Toole, Tayvon Gray, James Sands, Santiago Rodriguez, Andres Perea, Talles Magno (Alonso Martinez 72′), Monsef Bakrar (Keaton Parks 80′)
D.C. United: Birnbaum (45′ + 1′), Canouse 67′, Klich 90′ + 2′
NYCFC: O’Toole 75′, Perera 90′ + 7′