D.C. United christened their new stadium Audi Field on Saturday night in the best way possible. Yamil Asad opened the scoring in the first half, and Paul Arriola scored twice in the second half, as United beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1, in front of 20,504 fans. Wayne Rooney started the game on the bench, but entered the game in the 57th minute, replacing Darren Mattocks.
United almost earned their second clean sheet of the season, but Alphonso Davies scored late in stoppage time to give Vancouver a consolation goal.
Having spent most of the first half of the season on the road, United took advantage of the big occasion at Buzzard Point. Asad’s well struck goal in the 27th minute gave United a lead they would never relinquish, and by stoppage time, the sounds of oles from the crowd serenaded the Black-and-Red.
Head Coach Ben Olsen made one change to the team that drew 2-2 with the LA Galaxy 10 days ago. Jalen Robinson was dropped to the bench, and Oniel Fisher took over at right back, with Joseph Mora coming into the starting lineup at left back. In his debut, Rooney was on the bench, along with Steve Clark, Jalen Robinson, Russsell Canouse, Ian Harkes, Junior Moreno, and Bruno Miranda.
Neither team came flying out of the gate quickly, as the teams got accustomed to the new playing surface and stadium. In the 4th minute, Chris Durkin took a shot from range, which resulted in a corner kick from a deflection. However, Asad’s attempt from the corner sailed over everyone in the box.
A pinpoint long ball from Asad in the 10th found Luciano Acosta in the box, but the Argentine could not get around the challenge from Doneil Henry. Moments later, a give and go between Acosta and Darren Mattocks opened up a shooting lane for Acosta, but his effort was comfortably saved by Brian Rowe.
In the 16th minute, Vancouver was able to connect a couple of passes in and around the box, as United couldn’t recover possession. The ball ended up with Felipe at the top of the box, but the midfielder couldn’t keep his effort down, as it sailed over the goal.
The game entered a lull for about ten minutes, but Audi Field erupted when Asad opened the scoring with a well hit effort in the 27th minute. A cross from the right by Fisher was blocked in the box, and the ball popped out to Zoltan Stieber. Stieber quickly found Asad who, from just outside the half circle on the top of the box, one-timed a shot that dropped in over Rowe. The first ever goal at Audi Field gave Asad his eight goal of the season, besting the seven he had last year with Atlanta United.
Five minutes later, Kei Kamara nearly had an equalizer for the ‘Caps, but was denied by the woodwork. Marcel de Jong sent a free kick from the right side into the box, where Kamara rose up highest to direct a shot on target. The shot had David Ousted beat, but the ball smashed off the crossbar, and United quickly cleared the danger.
In the 43rd minute, Vancouver came close again, with the last chance of the half for either team. A cross from the right from Efrain Juarez found center back Jose Aja in the box. Aja beat everyone to the ball, but saw his header skip wide, letting United off the hook.
United continued to struggle in the air in the second half, as the opening chance in the second stanza came from a Vancouver corner kick. Felipe was able to pick out Henry with a in swinging corner, only for the center back to steer his header wide of the goal.
Arriola had a chance in the 55th minute, as he broke through the midfield and into the box. From a tight angle, Arriola tried to beat Rowe, but had a weak shot saved at the near post.
Rooney then entered the game in the 57th minute for Mattocks, being welcomed by a loud cheer from the crowd at Audi Field. A possible fairy tell moment popped up moments later, as United won a free kick about 25 yards from goal. Rooney took the honors, but hit his shot right into the wall, with any follow up danger quickly dissipating.
Rooney though was involved when Arriola doubled United’s lead in the 69th minute. Rooney took a pass in near the top of the box, and quickly passed back to Asad. Asad sent the ball to the opposite side for Stieber, who one-touched a pass into the path of Arriola. Arriola was in space, and fired between the legs of Rowe, for his third goal of the season.
United took advantage of a Vancouver took that looked incapable of coming back from two goals, with Rooney nearly getting a debut tally in the 79th minute. United quickly broke forward on a counter, but were put off by the defense near the box. Stieber took the ball out wide to the left, and crossed back in, where Rooney steered a header towards the near post, only to be denied by Rowe.
It took only another minute for Arriola to put the game to rest, as he scored his second of the game in the 80th minute. Rooney collected a pass from Acosta, and found Arriola outside the box. The back line dropped off of Arriola, allowing the US international the chance to shoot. There was no hesitation from Arriola, who laced a shot past Rowe for his first two goal game for the Black-and-Red.
Yordy Reyna bounced a header wide late on, as United looked to keep a cleansheet. However, Davies had other ideas, and in the third minute of stoppage time, tricked in between Durkin and Russell Canouse, and found the netting at the far post, denying Ousted his first shutout of the year.
The Black-and-Red, with 14 points from 15 games, head south to take on Atlanta United next week.