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Wayne Rooney’s stunning free kick gives D.C. United 1-0 win over Toronto FC

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United moved four points ahead of the the Impact with their fourth consecutive win

MLS: Toronto FC at D.C. United Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Wayne Rooney smashed home a long range free kick in the first half, and D.C. United kept Toronto FC off the scoreboard for 90 minutes, as United won 1-0 for the second time in five days. Rooney’s 10th goal of the season was a free kick from about 35 yards out in the 18th minute, his second direct free kick goal since arriving in MLS.

The win marked United’s fourth win in a row, and the eighth consecutive game without a loss. The last time United failed to pick up any points was back in August, when they lost 2-0 to the Philadelphia Union at Audi Field.

After beating FC Dallas on Sunday through a late goal from Russell Canouse, Ben Olsen made just one change to his starting lineup. Nick DeLeon started — his first start since May 26th — at right back, replacing Jalen Robinson. Paul Arriola was still absent due to the passing of his father, while Ulises Segura made the bench after playing in Costa Rica’s friendly Tuesday night.

In the 6th minute, DeLeon got into the box on the right, and tried to pick out a teammate in the middle with a cross. His attempted was deflected by Nick Hagglund, with the ball redirecting towards the near post. Alex Bono reacted quickly to gobble up the ball before it snuck in for an early United lead.

Toronto, missing several starters through injuries and international duty, did have the services of Michael Bradley, who played on Tuesday night against Peru. Toronto’s captain found Lucas Janson from a corner in the 7th minute, but Bill Hamid was equal to the effort.

In the 11th minute, another dangerous corner from Bradley found a teammate. This time, it was Hagglund who rose up, and the center back’s header forced Hamid into a reaction save. Hamid was up to the challenge, and the Black-and-Red were able to scramble away the rebound.

Then came time for Rooney to display his free kick mastery. Zoltan Stieber was fouled by Bradley about 35 yards out from goal. Both Stieber and Rooney stood over the free kick, but it was United’s number 9 who took the honors. Rooney’s shot started wide of the goal, but then curled back beyond the reach of Bono for his 10th goal of the season.

United then received scare with about 10 minutes left in the half, when Hamid went down after claiming a cross. The keeper immediately grabbed his left knee, and was tended to by the training staff. Travis Worra got ready, but Hamid stayed in, even though he was visibly limping for several more minutes.

Yamil Asad volleyed home a great pass from Chris Durkin in the 37th minute, but the play had already been stopped as referee Allen Chapman blew his whistle for offside. Since the whistle went before the ball went in, the play could not be reviewed, even though replays showed that the call was close.

United, who have not scored from a header on a corner all year, were denied by the woodwork in the 45th minute on a corner from Rooney. DeLeon’s goalward header took a deflection from a defender, which sent the ball off the crossbar before the Reds were able to clear the danger.

TFC were aided by the woodwork once again in the 57th minute, as Acosta was denied his 10th goal of the season. After Acosta had a shot blocked in the box, Durkin switched the field to Asad to keep the play alive. Asad found Rooney, who laid the ball back for Acosta. United’s playmaker took a touch to steady himself, but then slammed a shot from 12 yards out off the upright, keeping Toronto within a goal.

Bono denied Rooney his brace in the 73rd minute. A cross from Stieber was headed out by Hagglund, but only as far as Rooney, near the top of the box. Rooney hit a half-volley that spun off the ground, forcing Bono into an awkward save, but one in which the keeper was able to hold onto.

Acosta tried to get around Eriq Zavaleta on the endline in the 80th minute, but the towering center back proved to be too big of an obstacle. Zaveleta tried to leave the ball for Bono, but Acosta raced in between them to gain possession going away from goal. No shooting opportunity would come from Acosta’s hustle though, as Toronto recovered defensively.

United gave away plenty of possession but kept TFC to very few second half chances. However, Frederic Brillant had to head away a free kick from Bradley in stoppage time. That gave Toronto a corner, which United cleared, and broke the other way through Acosta. Acosta and Asad exchanged passes, with Acosta having a good look at goal broken up at the last moment by Janson. Undaunted, United saw out the final seconds of the game for their fourth win in a row.

United, with 47 points from 32 games, play their final home game of the regular season on Sunday, when they host New York City FC. A win, or a loss by the Montreal Impact, would clinch a playoff berth.