Tag Archives: Wayne Rooney

The ‘Circus’ Comes to Town: Rivalry Week in D.C.

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
MLSFemale Editor-In-Chief 
Official DC United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. United XI: Bill Hamid; Joseph Mora (Luciano Acosta, 72′), Steven Birnbaum, Frédéric Brillant, Jalen Robinson (Leonardo Jara, 38′); Lucas Rodríguez, Júnior Moreno, Felipe Martins, Paul Arriola; Ola Kamara (Quincy Amarikwa, 69′), Wayne Rooney

Two of the oldest teams in Major League Soccer, D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls have been at each other’s throats almost as long as the League has been in existence. Times have changed (and so has the Red Bulls’ name, they used to be the MetroStars) and while some believe this rivalry is dead, tonight’s match certainly made the case that the mutual animosity between D.C. and New York (or New Jersey, if you will) is alive and kicking. 

Tonight’s match had everything, except for a D.C. win. However, this wasn’t from a lack of trying on the part of the Black-and-Red. 

The New York Red Bull’s took an early goal, with Kaku taking advantage of a blind spot at D.C.’s end of the pitch in the 6’. Then things really began to get ugly between the two teams. Escalating physicality did not bode well for either D.C. or New York. 

By the 24’, captain Wayne Rooney was booked with a red, taking D.C. down to 10 men. The cards kept coming for D.C. with Felipe Martins being booked shortly after with a yellow in the 34’. New York was shortly left with 10 men as well, when Amro Tarek received his second yellow of the match and left the game just before halftime.

With both sides down a player, D.C. found the equalizer in the 55’. Newly signed Ola Kamara opened his account for D.C. United, finding the back of the net off an assist by Joseph Mora.

It was a bittersweet moment for Kamara. He said, “It would of course been more satisfying if it gave us a point or three. But of course, it feels good to get out in front of the home crowd and score a goal… It was a great feeling to start again.”

D.C.’s elation wouldn’t last long. After a controversial call by referee Ismail Elfath against Lucas ‘Titi’ Rodríguez, New York’s Daniel Royer cashed in on a penalty kick, bypassing D.C.’s goalkeeper Bill Hamid to claim another point on the scoreboard for the Red Bulls in the 59’. Black-and-Red supporters made their disapproval of Elfath’s call known throughout Audi Field, as they chanted and booed the official. Post-match, coach Ben Olsen would say, “It’s the wrong call. It’s a dive.”

Even with two relatively early (for Olsen) second half substitutions made, D.C. United couldn’t seem to regain the ground lost, despite the chances they continued to create. It seemed that every time D.C. built momentum, the whistle would sound again.

Quincy Amarikwa, who entered the match for Ola Kamara in the 69’, is well known for his ability to get into his opponents’ heads and exploit any sign of mental weakness. An ability he put into action against the Red Bulls tonight. “I would’ve liked to get in earlier,” the forward said, “I feel I could have created more opportunities. You know, we were really breaking them down at the end there. They were really struggling to hold on to the lead. You could tell with how often they were going down.”

Although there were 8 minutes of stoppage time added to the match (which turned into more), it wasn’t enough for D.C. to secure a comeback. The final score line of 1-2 didn’t seem to reflect the tremendous effort put in by D.C. United on the pitch.

As for Kamara, he is happy to have made a return to Major League Soccer. He said, “I really enjoy my time here. I have a lot of fun and I know so many people here too, so I see a lot of familiar faces. Coming to D.C. too, there are a lot of great guys, so it’s been very positive, I’m very happy.”

As the weekend approaches, the Black and Red will make a road trip north to face the Philadelphia Union on Saturday. With Wayne Rooney serving a suspension, it is highly likely we will see Ola Kamara in the XI again. Let’s hope his incredible positivity is contagious.

As always, Vamos United!

Featured image: D.C. United

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

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A Missed Opportunity

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
MLSFemale Editor-In-Chief 
Official DC United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. United XI: Bill Hamid; Joseph Mora, Steven Birnbaum, Frédéric Brillant, Leonardo Jara (Ema Boateng 67′); Júnior Moreno, Felipe Martins; Lucas Rodríguez, Paul Arriola, Ulises Segura (Luciano Acosta 58′); Wayne Rooney (Ola Kamara 74′)

D.C. United lost to the Vancouver Whitecaps on the road, with a lone goal scored in the first half deciding the match. After a standout performance against the LA Galaxy, sans Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta, it seemed almost preposterous that D.C. was bested by a team sitting in last place in the MLS Western Conference Standings.  Almost.

With a stacked roster, D.C.’s road trip to Vancouver could have been an easy opportunity for the Black-and-Red to secure three points before returning home to face their rivals, the New York Red Bulls, on Wednesday. New signing Ola Kamara was available to play in the away match, only increasing the feeling of confidence going into Saturday night’s match-up. 

Coach Ben Olsen began the match with many familiar faces in the XI, and for the first 10’ , D.C. seemed well in control of the match; then, the wheels came off the bus. Although they made 24 total shots, D.C. could not seem to find the back of the net. Only two shots were on target, an early shot in the 2’ by Paul Arriola and another shot in the 19′ by Ulises Segura.

Vancouver also only managed two shots on target, however, unlike D.C., one by Yordy Reyna managed to pass through the frame and connect, putting the Whitecaps up 1-0 in the 18’. It would be enough to best the Black-and-Red.

Even with 7 minutes of stoppage time added – yes, 7 – D.C. was unable to convert one of their 24 shots into a goal and left empty handed. Much to the chagrin of the team’s captain, they also had 12 hours of flight time to think about what went wrong.

Officiating Woes

Officiating seemed to be a pain point for D.C. again. What appeared to be a handball on the part of Vancouver, went without any call from referee Timothy Ford. Rooney, who is known to have publicly taken issue with MLS’s inconsistent officiating before, went off on the 4th official as he was subbed out of the match for Ola Kamara in the 74’. Post match, Rooney expressed his frustration, saying:

“Because I have my opinions on the referees and it’s not very good. So, I feel they need to improve the game – that’s my opinion. I feel like I’m entitled to my opinion. I said a couple of weeks ago, I got kicked, the referees do nothing. All I’m asking for is a bit of protection and it would be nice if Howard Webb could come to the training ground and let us speak to him over it because I feel it’s happening game after game. And to get some clarification, it would be nice if Mr. Webb came down to the training ground to speak to us.”

Standout Performances

There were two standout performances of the night, despite no result. Paul Arriola totaled five shots during the match, his most this season, and seemed to be everywhere on the pitch. Often considered to be Ben Olsen’s ‘Swiss Army Knife’, Arriola is a play maker, capable of influencing the match wherever he happens to be positioned. 

Paul tried to draw the positives from the match saying, “We had early chances to go ahead. We knew what Vancouver was going to bring to the table. They were very well-shaped defensively and looked for counter-attacks. They’ve got very good players up top. Credit to them, they executed when they needed.”

Shots made by Paul Arriola.

Ulises Segura, who has been simply outstanding in D.C.’s last few matchups, was incredible with his service during the match.  The midfielder’s successful passes, open play crosses, and key passes would have certainly been converted to assists had D.C. managed to score against Vancouver.

Ulises Segura’s successful passes, open play crosses, and key passes.

Looking Ahead

D.C. United will face their rivals, the New York Red Bulls at home this Wednesday and followed by a road trip to Philadelphia to face the Union on Saturday. With the urgency of securing a playoff berth looming, hopefully the Black-and-Red will make a turnaround before these two tough matchups.

As always, Vamos United!

Featured image: Vancouver Whitecaps

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

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It Was Certainly ‘A Week’ for D.C. United

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
MLSFemale Editor-In-Chief 
Official DC United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

The past seven days have been tumultuous for D.C. United, to say the least. A 5-1 drubbing by the Philadelphia Union last Sunday saw D.C.’s midfield further depleted, as homegrown player Chris Durkin suffered an ankle injury described as a ‘snap and pop’ by coach Ben Olsen. Then, only three short days remained before the summer transfer window came to a close on Wednesday. 

D.C. United has historically waited until the last minute to make major transfer window announcements. However, with a plethora of injuries and a recent shaky record both at home and on the road, making the right decisions during this window were critical for the Black-and-Red to keep their playoff run aspirations alive. 

And then… there were decisions outside of D.C.’s control.

About That Match

Sunday’s D.C. United match against the Philadelphia Union had just about everything, except a D.C. win. A goal by Alejandro Bedoya in the 3’ (after which he called upon Congress to do something about gun violence) tipped the scale in Philadelphia’s favor, and D.C. was unable to recover.

DC’s Junior Moreno proceeded to be booked with a red card in the 40’, taking DC United down to 10 men shortly before halftime. While Philadelphia collected a handful of yellow cards, they also racked up another goal. The Black-and-Red were sent to halftime down 0-2.

Even after defender Fred Brillant found the back of the net in the 54’, the flurry of goals that followed from Philadelphia left D.C. empty handed at the final whistle. The Black-and-Red finished with zero points to show, and down two midfielders from this match alone (Durkin due to injury and Moreno due to a red card).

Wayne Rooney is Heading Home

D.C. United’s captain Wayne Rooney flew to the UK on Monday, sparking rumors that quickly ignited a social media blaze. As it became public knowledge that Rooney was meeting with Derby County to discuss a player-coach role, speculation rose as to whether or not his transfer would be immediate. 

Even in the late hours of Monday evening, an immediate transfer of Rooney to Derby County remained a possibility, and Black-and-Red supporters wondered if they had seen the last of their English captain. Thankfully for both D.C. United and the team’s supporters, Rooney will stay on until the end of the 2019 season before leaving the District for good. 

If Not for The Last Minute, Nothing Would Get Done

With news of Rooney’s imminent exit hanging over the District, D.C. United was busy making moves in the final days and hours of the summer transfer window. Rumors abounded including the likes of Mario Balotelli and Mesut Özil, and of course, Yamil Asad (who will not return, much to our chagrin).

After the dust settled and the transfer window officially closed, it was Ola Kamara, Emmanuel ‘Ema’ Boateng, and Felipe Martins who made their way into the Black-and-Red’s ranks.

Ola Kamara

Norwegian international Kamara has spent the better part of 2019 with Shenzhen FC in the Chinese Super League. The forward was acquired for $2.5 million, D.C. United’s second largest transfer fee ever. Previously, Kamara has played for the Columbus Crew SC and LA Galaxy in MLS, as well as several clubs internationally. Unfortunately, Kamara is unavailable for today’s match against the LA Galaxy due to a visa hold up.

Emmanuel Boateng 

Ema Boateng is another LA Galaxy alum, having played for LA the past four seasons. 25-year-old Boateng began his career at the Right to Dream Academy in his home country of Ghana before moving to the US to play Division I soccer at UC Santa Barbara. A flexible player, Boateng is capable of contributing to D.C. United’s midfield or attack. He is available to play in today’s match against his former team.

Felipe Martins

The decision to sign Martins from the Vancouver Whitecaps has drawn much ire from D.C.’s supporters.  However, at a time when D.C.’s midfield is sorely lacking, Martins is a much-needed addition to the roster. Martins himself has acknowledged the long memory of D.C. supporters and has pledged to win them over through his hard work.

[Prior to this week, D.C. mutually parted ways with both Zoltan Stieber and Chris McCann. Akeem Ward was released and Gordan Wild, formerly a midfielder for Atlanta United, was signed.]

The Zlatan Show Comes to D.C.

As D.C. United face off with the LA Galaxy today in a sold-out match, one of the most often asked questions has been, “will Zlatan play?”  Ibrahimović has missed playing in a few matches recently (due to distance, turf, or other factors) however he will indeed be in the District tonight.  The Swede will go up against his former Manchester United teammate, Wayne Rooney, for the last time ever in MLS (barring a miracle where both teams meet in the playoffs).

D.C. United is expected to shake up the roster a bit this evening. With D.C.’s midfield mostly out of the picture (Canouse and Durkin with injuries, and Moreno with a red card), we may actually see Boateng and Martins hit the pitch. Kamara is still out of consideration due to a pending visa. 

Will the Black-and-Red rise to the occasion with Rooney on his way out the door? My friend Laura reminded me of an important fact this week…

As always, Vamos United! I’ll see you all at Audi Field tonight!

Featured image: @dcunited

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

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D.C. Draws with Toronto, Sending Nick DeLeon Home with A Point

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official D.C. United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. United XI: Bill Hamid; Chris McCann (Marquinhos Pedroso, HT’), Steven Birnbaum, Frederic Brillant, Leonardo Jara; Russell Canouse, Lucas Rodriguez, Ulises Segura (Quincy Amarikwa, 80′), Zoltan Stieber (Chris Durkin, 66′); Wayne Rooney, Luciano Acosta 

Sunset at Audi Field, we are underway. Photo credit: Sarah Kallassy

If you felt a sense of deja-vu after D.C. United’s matchup with Toronto FC this Saturday, you’re not alone. In their second meeting in as many months, the two teams yet again split points as they drew, 1-1.

Black-and-Red supporters and pundits alike were banking on Toronto arriving in the District with a squad depleted by international duty. No one doubted that D.C.’s heat and humidity would put the visitors at a further disadvantage. It almost came as a surprise when Toronto scored early in the first half.

Toronto’s goal scorer was none other than former D.C. United player Nick DeLeon. In the 19’, DeLeon slotted a left-footed shot past goalkeeper Bill Hamid to put Toronto on the board and leave the Black-and-Red seeking an equalizer.

A nasty foul brought D.C. defender Fred Brillant down in the box and led to a penalty kick that would put the Black-and-Red on the board. In a deviation from his usual technique, Captain Wayne Rooney drove the shot dead center to equalize the match. 

D.C.’s Captain was far from elated though. Toronto gave the Black-and-Red a difficult time from the start. Head Coach Ben Olsen said, “they are a tough team to prepare for, because they throw you for a loop with a false 9 in Pozuelo, and we didn’t think they would go that way and it took us a little while to adjust.”

 As a result of Toronto’s clever tactics, D.C. United were left chasing a single goal for the entire match. Were it not for Rooney’s successful penalty kick, Nick DeLeon would have likely headed back to Toronto with three points.

Even with a draw at home, Olsen, said, “I was proud of the second half and the effort to get something out of it… it wasn’t the end of the world.”

D.C. United hits the road this week for what Olsen says will be “a very tough game July 4thin Dallas”, where temperatures are predicted to soar into the 90s with a high percentage of humidity. 

Head Coach Ben Olsen has been lamenting the challenges brought by ‘summer soccer’, but D.C.’s Captain remains nonplussed. Wayne Rooney said, “yeah, its hot in Dallas, I was there a few weeks ago and experienced the heat there. We’ll be fine I think.”  

With the impending return of Moreno and Arriola from international duty, we can only hope that Rooney’s confidence is contagious, and D.C. is able to nab three points on the road. 

Featured image: @dcunited

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United Night OUT Sees D.C. Best Orlando

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official D.C. United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. United v Orlando City SC: 1-0

D.C. United XI: Bill Hamid; Joseph Mora, Steven Birnbaum, Frederic Brillant, Leonardo Jara; Chris Durkin, Russell Canouse, Lucas Rodriguez, Ulises Segura, Luciano Acosta (Quincy Amarikwa, 88′); Wayne Rooney 

A Match, A Celebration, A Remembrance

Photo credit: D.C. United

Wednesday night saw Audi Field packed for both the matchup between D.C. United and Orlando City SC and for United Night OUT. The win against Orlando made the evening even more special, as D.C. United Captain Wayne Rooney scored from his own half in a feat he has pulled off for each club he’s played for now, including Manchester United and Everton.

Falling just before the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a historic moment that sparked the gay rights movement in the United States, this year’s United Night OUT was particularly poignant.  

Photo credit: D.C. United

While this year isn’t the first that D.C. United has celebrated Pride, it is the first year that the club has changed its logo on social media in support, and the second-year players have worn rainbow numbers and the rainbow captain’s armband.  D.C. United also held a minute’s applause in the 49′ for those who lost their lives in the Pulse Night Club shooting in Orlando.

I was lucky enough to spend part of the match with Jim Ensor, a D.C. United season ticket holder since 1996 and a member of Federal Triangles Soccer Club (FTSC), the organization that hosts United Night OUT.

Photo credit: Jim Ensor

United Night OUT is presented by Team DC as part of their Night OUT series. Ensor and FTSC worked closely with D.C. United to coordinate the entire evening, from the coin toss and flag bearers, to the performance of the National Anthem by DC Different Drummers. Through the FTSC website, over 500 tickets were sold, a portion of their proceeds donated to D.C. Scores.

An interview with Jim Ensor

While we all tried to recover Rooney’s first half stunner, and had our fingers crossed that Orlando wouldn’t score, Ensor kindly discussed his thoughts on United Night OUT with me:

Sarah Kallassy: What would you like to see the community to gain from United Night OUT?

Jim Ensor: I want people to feel that they are part of this club, I want them to feel comfortable in the stands. I want them to be excited about the team on the field and feel connected to the organization behind the team on the field. More importantly, I want the team to reach out to the community as a whole…however you identify, we all are the community.

SK: How can someone be an ally or a better ally?

JE: Allies can listen, participate, and really be a part of it.

Listen. Be a part of our peoples’ lives, encourage them to be themselves. Allow them the opportunity to express themselves and create without judgement. We don’t need pandering; we don’t need sympathy. It’s very normal. That’s probably the biggest lesson, is to understand that its normal. 

Participate, learn more about what it is we’re going through. Learn more about our history. When we get to a point that parents and family and friends are not worried about someone coming out, or not feeling like they have to be an ally, that’s when we’re in a better place.

SK: What would you like someone to take away from tonight?

JE: The sense of community and being united is the most important part of it. We’ve got a long way to go. We have a very long way to go. I’ll continue to advocate for participation and inclusion, and for us to be united on and off the field.

“I don’t take it lightly that I’m sitting here feeling comfortable in the stands at a professional event, where they feel comfortable acknowledging our existence, acknowledging that we are part of the community. There are a lot of people that have paved the way to this and sacrificed and given up a lot for us to be here and enjoy this moment.”

Jim Ensor, Federal Triangles Soccer Club

Author’s note: A special thank you to Jim Ensor, who was one of the first people in the D.C. United community to welcome me as a reporter to this club. It was an honor to speak with you, and I will always remember what you said about the responsibility of this platform and honoring those who have come before me.

Featured image: @unitednightout

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

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D.C. United Out of the Running for the U.S. Open Cup

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official D.C. United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. United XI: Chris Seitz; Leonardo Jara (Jalen Robinson, HT), Frédéric Brillant, Steven Birnbaum, Joseph Mora; Chris Durkin, Antonio Bustamante (Russell Canouse, 70’), Lucas Rodríguez (Griffin Yow, 87’), Luciano Acosta, Ulises Segura; Wayne Rooney

The Match

D.C. United bowed out of the U.S. Open Cup in today’s match against NYCFC, losing 1-2 at home. The disappointing loss comes on the heels of a dramatic win in extra time against the Philadelphia Union just last week.

The Black-and-Red faithful and a small contingent of NYCFC’s supporter group, The Third Rail, were situated at opposing ends of the stadium, their face off mirroring the battle on the pitch. Both groups of supporters fought to be heard while their respective teams rallied in a quest to advance to the quarterfinals.

D.C.’s faithful. Photo Credit: Sarah Kallassy

Wednesday’s match seemed to be going in D.C. United’s favor at first, after an early NYCFC goal that had slipped past goalkeeper Chris Seitz was canceled in the 7’ due to a handball. After a missed attempt, Captain Wayne Rooney rocketed one into the back of the net in the 32’, opening D.C. United’s account for the match.

Unfortunately, Rooney’s goal would be the last of the Black-and-Red’s good fortune for the match. NYCFC broke through D.C. United’s defense to score in the 38’ and 41’. D.C. was sent into halftime down, 1-2.

After halftime, homegrown defender Jalen Robinson entered the match for Leonardo Jara, who had been feeling ill. However, no further substitutions were made by D.C.’s Head Coach Ben Olsen until much later in the second half, despite the pressure from NYCFC on the pitch.

As NYCFC continued to press D.C., Olsen brought on experienced midfielder Russell Canouse in the 70’. Even with the addition of homegrown striker Griffin Yow in the 87′, the Black-and-Red were still unable to find the equalizer. D.C. fell 1-2 to NYCFC, closing the door on a run toward the U.S. Open Cup this season.

A Fractured Squad

D.C. United entered the match against NYCFC with a fractured squad. Given the availability and health of D.C.’s players, it is no surprise they were not at their best Wednesday night against NYCFC. 

Paul Arriola and Junior Moreno are on international duty, for the USMNT and Venezuelan National Team respectively. Leonardo Jara, D.C.’s creative defender, is suffering from a minor illness that was further exacerbated by the heat and humidity. Russell Canouse, another regular starter, is still making a journey toward full fitness after an ankle injury.

Looking Forward

D.C. United will face off against Orlando City SC next Wednesday, June 26th, as they move into the second half of the MLS season. Out of the running for the Open Cup, D.C. can now shift focus to prioritize League matches, while the return of Arriola and Moreno from international duty and better health throughout the squad will give Ben Olsen greater flexibility as D.C. begins a push toward the playoffs.

Vamos United!

Featured image: @dcunited

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

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D.C. United Turns Up in Extra Time to Win Over the Philadelphia Union 2-1

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official D.C. United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. United XI: Christopher Seitz; Joseph Mora (Chris McCann, 97’), Steven Birnbaum, Frédéric Brillant, Jalen Robinson (Quincy Amarikwa, 90’); Antonio Bustamante (Griffin Yow, 73’), Leonardo Jara, Ulises Segura, Lucas Rodríguez, Luciano Acosta; Wayne Rooney. [Note: Originally Chris Odoi-Atsem was in the XI, however due to a pulled muscle in warmups, he was replaced by Jalen Robinson.]

If you weren’t at Audi Field this Wednesday for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match between D.C. United and the Philadelphia Union, and many weren’t, you missed out on one of the best nights of soccer the District has seen in quite a while.

A nail biter that went into extra time, the fourth-round match saw D.C. and Philadelphia battle it out for 120 minutes before the Black-and-Red were able to claim their victory. In classic Audi Field style, rain began to fall just before the match went into extra time, lending to the drama and testing the Black-and-Red faithful who were posted up in the supporters’ section. 

Notably, Joseph Mora made his return to the pitch, logging over 90 minutes of playing time as he continues the journey to full fitness after being out since the end of March with a broken jaw. Mora’s comeback comes at a wonderful time for D.C. United, as the team is currently sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference standings.

Heading into the second half of the season D.C. will look forward to a run toward a playoff berth, making every player critical to the team’s success. 

Joseph Mora is BACK! Photo Credit: D.C. United

Goalkeeper Chris Seitz and homegrown midfielder Antonio Bustamante made their competitive debuts for the Black-and-Red against the Union. Bustamante told MLSFemale, “When I was subbed out, it felt like I just woke up from a dream. My adrenaline was high, it was very exciting.” Bustamante was replaced by 16-year-old Griffin Yow in the 72’, a homegrown favorite and member of the U-17 MNT team.

In the 90’, the match remained scoreless. Coach Ben Olsen brought in veteran striker Quincy Amarikwa, in a smart move that bolstered D.C.’s attacking front. With two 15-minute halves added, the two teams continued to battle in the pouring rain as they each sought just one goal to end the match and avoid dreaded penalty kicks.

Chris McCann sending one home for the Black-and-Red! Photo Credit: D.C. United

When the Union scored in the 113’ it seemed the match might be over with D.C. defeated at home. Black-and-Red supporters cranked up the volume as D.C. United rallied. In the 118’, defender Chris McCann scored the equalizer, slamming a well-placed ball by Captain Wayne Rooney into the back of the net. The crowd in Audi Field roared with approval. Just moments later, in the 119’, our Captain buried a penalty kick to clinch the match for D.C. United.

The dreaded penalty kicks were avoided, and D.C. United emerged victorious, moving on to the next round of the U.S. Open Cup. Will D.C. United claim another Open Cup? A fourth trophy would certainly be a nice addition to the Black-and-Red’s collection.

D.C. United faces off against NYCFC at home on June 19that 7pm in the next round! Vamos United!

Featured image: @dcunited

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

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Frustration as D.C. United Draw with San Jose

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official DC United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. United Substitutions: Russell Canouse (Leonardo Jara, 25’), Steven Birnbaum (Chris Odoi-Atsem, 62’)

D.C. United’s Captain, Wayne Rooney, was noticeably frustrated post-match tonight. After two consecutive draws against the NE Revolution and Chicago Fire (which should have been a win for D.C.), D.C. United drew again against the San Jose Earthquakes, 1-1. 

The level-headed Englishman described his irritation with the constant mistakes made by match officials and their inability to get even the simple calls right. Unfortunately, such officiating mistakes had cost D.C. United three points just a few days earlier, when an offsides call was botched. PRO Referees issued a statement, however the points were still lost.

Audi Field was packed with just over 18,000 supporters, ready to see the Black-and-Red emerge victorious before they head toward a break until the end of June. The team has played more games during the first half of the season than any other team, and fatigue is starting to creep in. After a trying stretch, a win at home would have set D.C. up nicely before they continued on into the second half of the season.

With Paul Arriola back on the pitch after a two-match suspension, things seemed to be in D.C.’s favor. Beginning the match with a tenacity and energy reflective of high spirits, D.C. United was well in control of the pitch, containing San Jose. The Earthquakes began to pick apart D.C.’s defense, making their way dangerously close to the Black-and-Red goal. Then, defender Russell Canouse rolled his ankle early on, removing him from the match.

As D.C.’s control of the first half disintegrated, San Jose pelted D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid with attempt after attempt. Hamid saved five shots on target in the first half alone. However, he was unable to stop a well-placed header by Chris ‘Wondo’ Wondolowski that sailed into the back of the net in the 36’. Wondolowski, the top scoring player in MLS history, netted his 151st goal.

D.C. United’s failure to sufficiently mark Wondolowski was clearly a mistake, as he was able to sneak in behind defender Jalen Robinson to open San Jose’s account. As a result, the Black-and-Red were sent to halftime down 0-1. Perhaps most unsettling was that San Jose totaled seventeen shots (6 on target), from 9 players while D.C. totaled only 3 shots (0 on target) from two players during the first half.

The second half was punctuated with knock after knock for D.C. United. Defender Steven Birnbaum took a nasty crack to the head that saw him escorted off the field by medical staff. Minutes later Luciano Acosta was also down on the field, holding his face. Defender Fred Brillant was thrown into San Jose’s goal, and struggled to get to his feet, noticeably limping away.

D.C.’s Acosta was able to find the equalizer in the 67’ bringing the score to 1-1. Bolstered by Acosta’s goal, D.C. United began to put San Jose under more pressure, but remained unable to find another opportunity, even in seven minutes of stoppage time

Tensions flared between D.C. and San Jose, the match becoming increasingly physical as both teams struggled to find just one more goal. Spats could be seen between players both on the field and on the sideline, with heated words being exchanged at close range.

D.C. United hangs on to the top spot in the Eastern Conference, but a rising Atlanta United is only one point behind. Hopefully the next month will provide the Black-and-Red with a chance to rest and regroup before embarking on their 2019 push for a playoff berth.

D.C. will play the Philadelphia Union on June 12 in the US Open Cup and will resume the regular MLS season when they face Orlando city SC on June 26that Audi Field.

Note: Steven Birnbaum received stitches and passed concussion protocol. He was available for interview and doing well after his injury.

Featured image: @dcunited

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

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D.C. United’s Rough Week On the Road

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official D.C. United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. v Toronto: 0-0 and D.C. v Houston: 1-2

D.C. United had a rough week. Three matches in 7 days rough. The Black-and-Red pulled a win, a draw, and a loss, and logged some serious frequent flyer miles as the team flew from the District to Toronto, and then on to Houston.

Ben Olsen Shakes Up the XI

D.C. United Starting XI against Toronto FC. Credit: D.C. United

D.C.’s starting XI aren’t usually a surprise, especially to those familiar with the team. Head Coach Ben Olsen is a man of habit, which sometimes brings him criticism (unless of course D.C. United is winning, in which case the ranks of Olsen’s Army swell). For the May 15th midweek matchup against Toronto FC and former D.C. United player Nick DeLeon, Olsen had some serious considerations to make in terms of his lineup. 

In a move of genius, or not (depending who you are), Olsen made massive changes to the XI. Leaving Captain Wayne Rooney, Acosta, Arriola, Jara, Pedroso, and Rodriguez to rest on the bench, we saw Jalen Robinson, Akeem Ward, Chris Durkin, and Quincy Amarikwa (finally) get some significant minutes on the pitch. 

Unfortunately, D.C. was unable to score against Toronto FC, but the Black-and-Red were able to withstand the immense pressure they were placed under, keeping the match at a 0-0 draw. Which leads to the fact that…

Bill Hamid is a Brick Wall

Undoubtedly, Bill Hamid was D.C.’s biggest asset during their trip north. Toronto FC took an MLS record 35 shots during the match, however Bill Hamid set a record of his own. Logging a career best 12 saves, Hamid’s shot stopping ability clearly kept the match at a draw, rather than allowing it to turn into a humiliating loss.  Can the man get his USMNT call up, please?

Temperatures and Tempers Flare in Houston

With D.C.’s starters somewhat rested, the team headed to steamy Houston for the final match of the week to face the Dynamo. The Houston Dynamo were, and are, unbeaten at home. 

A collision between D.C.’s Steven Birnbaum and Alberth Elis of the Dynamo in the early minutes of the match left the latter so injured he couldn’t continue. The first half continued scoreless with D.C. and the Dynamo heading to halftime at 0-0. 

D.C. United Captain Wayne Rooney issued a wakeup call to the Dynamo with the first match goal scored in the 46’. With the Black-and-Red up 1-0, Houston rallied. Taking advantage of a lapse in D.C.’s defense, Houston scored an equalizer in the 67’ and another goal just a minute later. 

With tensions rising and the time left on the clock dwindling for D.C. to seek another opportunity on goal, the match became even more physical. D.C. United’s Paul Arriola was booked with a red card in the 85’ for violent conduct after a foul and subsequent tangle up with the Dynamo’s Lundqvist.

With D.C. down to 10 men, they continued to chase an equalizer in the final minutes, even bringing in striker Quincy Amarikwa in stoppage time. Unfortunately for D.C. United, there would be no equalizer and the match ended in a Dynamo victory, 2-1.

Looking Forward

The week’s results were surely not what D.C. United had hoped, especially given that the top spot of the Eastern Conference is at stake. Captain Wayne Rooney has been openly critical of his team, saying, “We were not good enough . . . we need to learn, and if we can’t learn when we’re top of the league, then we never will.”

D.C. United will host an international friendly at Audi Field on May 22 against Spanish side Real Betis but won’t see any MLS action until next week’s match against the NE Revolution on May 25. 

Here’s hoping the Black-and-Red bounce back after a challenging week. Vamos United!

Featured image: @dcunited

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

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Paul Arriola Leads D.C. United to a 1-0 Win Over Sporting Kansas City at Home

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official D.C. United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

Paul Arriola, the tenacious 24-year-old Californian, made the game winning goal for D.C United in the 78’ during a tough match against Sporting Kansas City. Attendance at Audi Field was not at its best Sunday night, with a recorded total of just over 12,500. Any variety of factors could have been to blame: Mother’s Day, Game of Thrones, or the chilly weather that belonged back in early March. 

With numerous Sporting KC starters missing due to injury on the team’s first visit to Audi Field, it would have been easy for D.C. United to underestimate the depleted team. Instead, the Black-and-Red exhibited a real sense of urgency on the pitch, as D.C. needed a win to keep pace with the Philadelphia Union atop the Eastern Conference Standings. (Both teams currently are in possession of 23 points.)

The first half of the match saw a focused D.C. United trying to break through holes in Sporting’s defenses and the veritable brick wall that is Tim Melia. Sporting’s Dániel Sallói was shown a yellow card early, in the 11’, for dragging D.C.’s creative Leonardo Jara back.

Shortly after, Captain Wayne Rooney took a beauty of a free kick in the 14’, only to have his effort thwarted by the talented Melia. The first half continued to slip away, with both D.C. and SKC unable to find an opening. At halftime, the score stood at 0-0.

As the second half started, the weather deteriorated further and pouring rain pummeled the pitch. While the Black-and-Red faithful remained, many in ponchos, a good number of fans exited Audi Field, unwilling to suffer any longer. The pitch became slick, sending players sliding and giving both D.C. and Sporting a tough time. Medics were called onto the field numerous times as players went down hard. Although there were a few scares, everyone emerged from the match relatively unscathed. 

Just when it looked like D.C. would have to accept a draw, Paul Arriola curled the ball in past Melia. The shot was the ‘something special’, in the words of Ben Olsen, that the Black-and-Red needed to surpass Vermes’ team and take three points for the District. For fans that had been braving the elements all evening, Arriola’s goal immediately injected a sense of warmth into the crowd at Audi Field. Defender Russell Canouse, said, “It was unbelievable. Once it left his foot, we had the feeling that it was going in.”

After scoring, Arriola immediately sent up his love to his late father, Arturo, who passed away late last year. Lifting his cleat to his ear and pointing skyward, there was no doubt who Arriola was dedicating his goal to.

Arriola’s goal is his third this season, bringing him even with Luciano Acosta. Only Captain Wayne Rooney has scored more in 2019. Arriola said, “This time last year, I don’t even think I had a goal. So, it feels good…But more importantly, today was a complete team performance. In the end, it’s not about who wins it, it’s which team wins it.” 

According to Head Coach Ben Olsen, Arriola is establishing himself as a viable option in terms of scoring goals for D.C. United. ‘Lucharoo’ (Acosta and Rooney) have been systematically marked in almost every match, making it more difficult for the duo to create chances on goal. Their dynamic partnership led to D.C. United climbing the Eastern Conference Standings in 2018 to a playoff berth and other teams have taken note. Arriola’s ability to create chances and to distract from the pair remains an incredible asset for D.C. United as the season progresses.

Sunday night was a true team effort for D.C. United, with every player contributing substantially to the team’s success. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid logged his 60th career clean sheet (and 6th this season), placing him 11th in all-time shutouts in MLS.  Ulises Segura and Chris Durkin saw minutes in the second half. Talented homegrown player Durkin will head off to the U20 FIFA World Cup later this month. 

Marquinhos Pedroso, D.C. United’s recently acquired defender from FC Dallas, put in a solid 90-minute performance, adding much needed coverage to the backline. Pedroso brings a wealth of international experience to the team. He has played in his home country of Brazil, as well as Hungary and Turkey. Olsen was pleased with Pedroso’s performance in the match, saying, “I certainly enjoyed watching him.” The defender’s presence allowed D.C. to return to their comfortable formation on the pitch with a four-man backline.

D.C. United is about to hit the road for two matches, on Wednesday against Toronto and on Saturday against Houston, in what Olsen calls ‘silly scheduling.’ When asked how he would deal with his first true travel test since coming to MLS, Captain Wayne Rooney just smiled. “When you’ve got four kids at home, and you’re used to flying with four kids, yeah, any flight is easy without them.” 

D.C. United plays Toronto FC this Wednesday, May 15th, and then moves on to face the Houston Dynamo on Saturday, May 18th.

Vamos United!

Featured image: @dcunited

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

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