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Late drama gives D.C. United 2-1 win over Colorado Rapids

Wayne Rooney and an own goal from Niki Jackson made the difference on Saturday night

MLS: Colorado Rapids at D.C. United Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

D.C. United got a goal from Wayne Rooney, but a crucial, late own goal from Niki Jackson was the difference, as the Black-and-Red beat the Colorado Rapids 2-1 on Saturday night at Audi Field. Rooney’s goal in the first half put United on course for a much-needed win, but in the 83rd minute, an equalizer from Kellyn Acosta put D.C. in danger. However, substitute Ulises Segura forced a 90th minute own goal from Jackson, bailing United out after they squandered numerous chances.

Just days after a disappointing loss at home to the New York Red Bulls, head coach Ben Olsen made four changes to the starting lineup. Rooney got his second start up top, his first as the newly named captain. Kofi Opare, Russell Canouse, and Junior Moreno were also handed starts, with Frederic Brillant and Chris Durkin dropping to bench, and Paul Arriola suspended.

United started the game by dominating possession early, but couldn’t find any openings through a compact Colorado defense. The first chance that United did generate came in the 23rd minute, as Luciano Acosta and Zoltan Stieber connected on a give-and-go. Acosta played Stieber into the box, and the Hungarian slid the ball in front of goal, where Canouse tried to poke the ball past Tim Howard. Lunging in, Canouse couldn’t get the touch right, and Howard collected.

Disaster then nearly struck in the 25th minute, as Moreno was adjudged to have tripped up Edgar Castillo at the top of the box, giving the Rapids a penalty kick. Kellyn Acosta, who was making his competitive debut for Colorado after a recent trade from FC Dallas, took the honors. David Ousted guessed correctly but was beaten, only for the shot to smash off the upright, and United was able to clear the danger from there.

Stieber and Acosta combined in the 30th minute, as the Argentine chested down a ball in the box. From a tight angle, Acosta tried to clip the ball past Howard, but his effort went across the face of goal, and Colorado ended the threat quickly.

Three minutes later, United got the moment that they had been waiting for, as Rooney opened up his MLS account. Moreno won the ball at midfield, sliding the ball to Stieber in the process. Stieber quickly picked out Acosta, who waited for Rooney to make a run towards the box. Acosta did well to pick out Rooney, who skipped past a challenge from Tommy Smith in the box, and then slid the ball between Howard’s legs for the 1-0 lead.

Colorado evened out possession by the time the first half came to a close, but neither team looked capable of changing the scoreline as the first half wound down. The only shot after Rooney’s goal came from Kellyn Acosta in the 35th minute, but it was well wide of the mark.

Early on in the second half, both teams had good looks, with Sam Nicholson going close early on for the Rapids. In space outside the box, the Scottish winger laced a shot towards goal that swerved just wide of Ousted’s near post.

Kellyn Acosta had a look from the top of the box in the 51st minute that was blocked out for a corner. At the other end, Opare won a header on a corner from Rooney in the 54th minute, but the defender’s attempt was wide of the mark.

Mayhem ensued for the next couple of minutes, but on several occasions, somehow United couldn’t add to their advantage. In the 55th minute, on a counter attack from Stieber, Acosta picked up the ball on the endline, clipping it over Howard but onto the top of the crossbar.

Offside was called as United pursued the rebound, but Stieber collected Howard’s poor free kick, and United were right back in on goal. This time, Rooney had the chance, but Howard got a hand to the strike, which pushed the ball off the post. In the 58th minute, Rooney was the beneficiary for a give-and-go between Acosta and Yamil Asad, but Howard once again produced a stop.

The two Acostas exchanged chances for either team, as Castillo picked out the Rapids’ Acosta, who could only hit the side netting from inside the box. Luciano Acosta tried his luck from long range in the 66th minute, but saw his effort fly over the bar.

Asad had an first-time shot saved by Howard in the 78th minute, as United started to look very comfortable with their narrow lead.

That lead evaporated in the 83rd minute though, as Kellyn Acosta got a goal on his debut. Substitute Jack McBean got the ball in United’s half, with the Black-and-Red out of shape defensively following a turnover. The big striker played the ball across the field, as Acosta ran into the box. Acosta then delicately chipped the ball over the onrushing Ousted. Steve Birnbaum leaped up at full stretch trying to head the shot over the bar, but it nestled into the back of the net.

It was exactly what United didn’t need, and United quickly brought on Mattocks as they knew they would have to push forward to get a winner in a game they had to have.

Segura, who had come on just before the equalizer, turned into the hero United needed, thanks to a lucky deflection. Picking the ball up on the right side of the box, Segura tried to cut back twice before crossing the ball into the middle. His cross took a deflection off of Jackson, and Howard could not react quickly enough to get to his near post as United retook the lead in the 90th minute.

Mattocks nearly settled the game late in stoppage time, as Acosta played him in towards goal. Mattocks got past Howard, but had to go wide, allowing the ‘keeper time to recover. Mattocks cut back and tried to shoot past Howard, but was denied a 9th goal of the season.

United, with 17 points from 18 games, head up to Canada to take on the Montreal Impact next weekend.