By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy
D.C. United XI: Bill Hamid; Joseph Mora, Steven Birnbaum, Frédéric Brillant, Russell Canouse; Júnior Moreno, Felipe Martins; Lucas Rodríguez (Quincy Amarikwa 70′), Paul Arriola, Ulises Segura (Emmanuel Boateng,; Wayne Rooney (Luciano Acosta, 77′)
A muggy Sunday night match against the Seattle Sounders put D.C. United one step closer to hosting a playoff match at Audi Field this season. The Black-and-Red had only guaranteed their playoff berth the night before, with a little help from their friends in the West, the LA Galaxy. Ready to bring the playoffs home to the District, a win over the Sounders stood as another obstacle in their way. D.C. did not disappoint, logging their third consecutive shutout victory.
The Black-and-Red clearly turned up to win, chippy and focused from the first whistle. As D.C. finds their identity as a team once more, individual players are also blossoming. In particular, Ulises Segura has indeed come into his own this season, developing a sharpness and style that was rarely seen in 2018. Paul Arriola continues to be one of the hardest working and most tenacious men on the field; his work rate is exhausting even to watch.
Russell Canouse has recently been slotted into the RB position, where he is thriving. Canouse is creating a brick wall for opponents, and we are here for it. Head coach Ben Olsen was proud of his performance, saying, “he understands spacing, and when to get out… offensively he can still help us in builds; he connects more passes than not…I think he’s doing pretty damn good there.”
After a missed attempt by D.C. captain Wayne Rooney in the 13’, Lucas ‘Titi’ Rodríguez snapped back to put the Black-and-Red on the board. Capitalizing on the chaos surrounding Seattle’s goal, Titi, sank a rocket right into the net behind goalkeeper Stefan Frei in the 14’.
Play began to get physical between the two teams, both vying for the advantage under referee Alan Kelly’s watchful eye. Crisp passing by D.C. Untied kept the Sounders running in circles for a good portion of the first half, while the Black-and-Red created chance after chance up top.
Closing out the first half up 1-0 over Seattle, D.C. wasn’t done yet. A strong defense by the Sounders at the beginning of the second half seemed to have the Black-and-Red pinned back. However, a foul in the 53’ on Joseph Mora gave D.C. an opening to score yet another goal. Fred Brillant tipped in a perfectly placed ball from a set-piece by captain Wayne Rooney in the 54’, putting D.C. up 2-0. Brillant’s effort earned him well deserved ‘Man of the Match’ honors.
A 70’ substitution brought on striker Quincy Amarikwa for Titi Rodríguez. He settled in quickly to make a run at Seattle’s goal. The early substitution gave Amarikwa significant time to get in the heads of the Sounders, and he delivered his signature mental game on the field.
Luciano Acosta entered the match in the 77’ for captain Wayne Rooney, who left the pitch to a standing ovation. The cheers for Rooney were deafening. Olsen then made his third substitution of the match, bringing on Emmanuel Boateng for Ulises Segura. While Olsen usually takes his time making substitutions, if he makes them at all, his instincts tonight were near flawless.
Olsen knows the playoff run will be challenging and has acknowledged that the team has to “sustain focus to raise silverware…you’re going to have to adapt and change and be good with every aspect of the game.”
D.C. United is back, and just in time!
All images: D.C. United
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