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Wayne Rooney set pieces key D.C. United to 2-1 victory over Orlando City

United survived intense late pressure to get their first road win in 10 months

D.C. United survived a late rally to defeat Orlando City 2-1, giving them a first road win since May 19, 2018. Wayne Rooney’s free kicks made the difference, as he set up Steve Birnbaum’s opener before scoring the eventual winner direct from a free kick out on the flank. Dom Dwyer’s second half goal ruined D.C’s 333-minute shutout streak to begin the 2019 season, but the Black-and-Red held on to take the full three points.

Orlando started the match in an electric manner, pouncing on D.C. united and seizing any opportunity to gain possession. D.C. United needed an extra couple minutes to get settled on the pitch and feel out their opponents.

However, United were given the perfect opportunity to threaten the home side when a handball by Robin Jansson awarded Wayne Rooney the first free kick of the night. Rooney floated the ball into the box, where Steven Birnbaum was wide open at the back post to calmly nod United in front in the 6th minute.

The Lions attempted to retaliate immediately after the goal, when Dwyer’s lunging attempt to keep the ball in play ended up going right to Nani, who was wide open but headed the ball well over the bar.

A heavy collision between United’s Joseph Mora and Orlando wingback Ruan saw both players require treatment. Replays showed that Mora was hit in the face by Ruan’s shin after making a tackle, and after several minutes the Costa Rican was substituted, with Chris McCann making his United debut in the 16th minute.

On the 28 minute mark, Orlando City’s Lamine Sané received the first card of the night after a bad challenge on Lucas Rodriguez, awarding Rooney another free kick. United’s captain drove the ball into the box, but the action was quickly halted as Rowe’s punched the ball away. Rooney wrangled the rebound, luring Dwyer into a rash challenge in the corner.

Orlando had their issues with the call, but there was no disputing Rooney’s free kick, which despite being out on the touchline and deep in the corner managed to curl directly into the upper corner, handing United a 2-0 lead. Orlando called for the goal to be reviewed, claiming a foul on goalkeeper Brian Rowe, but VAR confirmed the goal stood.

Minutes before the half time whistle, the home side were awarded a free kick by the corner after the ball seemed to hit Leonardo Jara’s arms. Nani squandered the opportunity by going short, allowing Rodriguez to read the play and block the attempt from Dwyer.

The Black-and-Red started the second half with an intense energy, dominating Orlando by intercepting passes and establishing a smooth dynamic in the opponent’s half. Two minutes into the half, United completed their first chance of the half as Luciano Acosta gained possession. Acosta pinged a shot on frame, but Rowe did just enough to tip it over the bar.

Orlando attempted to retaliate as Dwyer sped up to the visiting side’s box, however, he failed to establish a successful finish, hitting the ball narrowly wide of Hamid.

The home side’s momentum continued, settling nicely within their opponent’s half until United found a way to steal the ball back and counterattack. Rooney was able to find Moreno on the run after a nice passing sequence, but Moreno’s bid narrowly missed the goal.

In the 63rd minute, D.C. United saw their 333-minute shutout streak come to an end. Substitute Chris Mueller found possession on the right and made his way to the endline before crossing it to Dwyer, who escaped Frederic Brilliant to head past Hamid from four yards.

The goal gave the home side an instant shot of energy, with Orlando unleashing waves of attacks in the last 30 minutes, forcing United to struggle to maintain the lead. Orlando were often pushing nearly every player forward, and United’s attempts to counter-attack fell apart before they could kill the game off with a third goal.

Minutes before the final whistle, Orlando won a corner and nearly tied the game. Following some chaos, the ball looped to Mueller at the back post, and only the post could come to United’s rescue. A minute later, Orlando gained possession after another scramble following service into the area, but Robin Jansson’s shot clipped the fallen Russell Canouse and went just barely wide, letting United off the hook.

Orlando remained relentless in the final minutes, holding United hostage in their own half, but ultimately United managed to run the clock out, giving them their third win of the season and pushing them back up to the top of the Eastern Conference.

Highlights will be added when they are made available.

Box Score

MLS Regular Season (Game 4)
Orlando City 1 (Dwyer 63)
D.C. United 2 (Birnbaum 6, Rooney 30)

OCSC (3421): Brian Rowe; Shane O’Neill, Lamine Sané, Robin Jansson; Ruan, Carlos Ascues, Uri Rosell (Sebas Mendez 59), João Moutinho; Sacha Kljestan (Chris Mueller 59), Nani (C) (Benji Michel 78); Dom Dwyer

DCU (4231): Bill Hamid; Leonardo Jara, Frederic Brillant, Steven Birnbaum, Joseph Mora (Chris McCann 15); Junior Moreno, Russell Canouse; Paul Arriola (Ulises Segura 69), Luciano Acosta, Lucas Rodriguez (Jalen Robinson 86); Wayne Rooney (C)

OCSC - Sané 29
DCU - Brillant 67