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Lucas Rodriguez, D.C. United thump FC Cincinnati 4-1

Rodriguez struck twice as United got back to winning ways

MLS: D.C. United at FC Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

D.C United triumphed 4-1 over FC Cincinnati in their first-ever visit to Nippert Stadium, attaining their first away win since April 24. Despite a controversial Cincinnati penalty early in the second half, a brace from Lucas Rodriguez (who also had an assist) helped the Black-and-Red to push on for the win. Then, a defeated home side saw Wayne Rooney and Paul Arriola get their names on the scoresheet to secure 3 points.

United, for the first time in MLS in 2019, started the match with Bill Hamid on the bench, as Chris Seitz made his first start in an otherwise unchanged side. The match began slowly, though, as United struggled to build on last week’s sharp second half.

Neither side could create a threatening opportunity, until the 24th minute saw the home side force United into emergency defending. Despite the attentions of Leonardo Jara on Kendall Watson, the Cincinnati captain — known for his capabilities in the air — won Leonardo Bertone’s perfectly placed corner to crack a header off the bar.

Watson’s close call awoke United’s thirst to attack. Moments later, a deep cross from Joseph Mora saw Paul Arriola send an open header towards the corner, obliging Spencer Richey to reach for an impressive save.

The offensive action continued on both ends until the Black-and-Red capitalized on their opponent’s mistake to open the scoring in the 42nd minute. Rooney gained possession through a throw-in, touching the ball to Rodriguez. With Cincinnati’s defense standing still, Rodriguez took a stunning first touch before curling the ball past two defenders to reach the back of the net, leaving Richey no chance.

Shortly after the second half began, Cincinnati got level. Bertone fired a free kick into United’s wall, and after consideration, referee Baldomero Toledo called a handball on Arriola and awarded a penalty. Toledo declined the use of VAR before making his decision, despite replays indicating that Arriola’s arm was tucked in tight.

Emmanuel Ledesma stepped up and paused between steps before burying the ball in the net for the equalizer.

Cincinnati’s good fortune, however, did not last long. United was stung into action, and in the 59th minute, Arriola saw Rodriguez in another big pocket of space. The Argentine went for power, and his shot clipped Waston’s shoulder before flying past Richey.

The Black-and-Red’s momentum continue to grow, quickly outshining their opponent and becoming unstoppable. Five minutes after the second goal, Jara picked out a lovely pass to Rooney, who gained control and quickly escaped Waston’s defending with a stunning first touch. By cutting off the Cincinnati player, Rooney then had a clear path to fire the ball home, making it 3-1.

Taking advantage of Cincinnati’s deflated attitude, Rodriguez initiated a counterattack on the 73rd minute that allowed Arriola to infiltrate Cincinnati’s box extremely easily to slip the ball past Richey to attain his first goal of the night.

After the fourth goal, Ben Olsen quickly used his three substitutions — they face Atlanta United on Sunday — and the Black-and-Red killed the game off without much in the way of drama.

The win, just United’s second in nine games and their first in six road games, pushes D.C. within one point of first place in the Eastern Conference.

Highlights will be added when they are made available.

Box Score

MLS Regular Season (Game 22)
FC Cincinnati 1 (Ledesma 54pen)
D.C. United 4 (Rodriguez 42, 59; Rooney 64; Arriola 73)

Cincy (4231): Spencer Richey; Alvas Powell, Justin Hoyte, Kendall Waston (C), Mathieu Deplagne; Leonardo Bertone, Allan Cruz (Victor Ulloa 78); Emmanuel Ledesma (Roland Lamah 65), Frankie Amaya, Kekuta Manneh; Rashawn Dally (Fanendo Adi 64)

DCU (343): Chris Seitz; Donovan Pines, Frederic Brillant, Steven Birnbaum; Leonardo Jara (Jalen Robinson 84), Russell Canouse, Junior Moreno, Joseph Mora; Paul Arriola (Ulises Segura 76), Wayne Rooney (C) (Quincy Amarikwa 84), Lucas Rodriguez

Cincy - Waston 15
DCU - Birnbaum 32, Rooney 54, Canouse 70