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D.C. United take a bite out of the Big Apple, winning 2-1 over NYCFC

Captain Steve Birnbaum scored the game-winner for the Black-and-Red while DP Christian Benteke made his debut.

MLS: D.C. United at New York City FC Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

D.C. United squared off for a midweek matchup with the reigning MLS Champions, NYCFC, and won 2-1, breaking a long winless streak. In MLS style, the match was set at — of all places — Red Bull Arena.

The Black-and-Red were able to hold off their hosts for much of the first half, striking first in the 24’. Chris Durkin, once again, came in clutch for the Black-and-Red, finding Ola Kamara in a dangerous position, floating unmarked in the final third. Kamara easily tapped the ball in behind goalkeeper Sean Johnson’s back. Johnson had been drawn away by action to the right, leaving the threat Kamara posed unaccounted for.

NYCFC was quick to find their answer, with Héber capitalizing on a long cross from Malte Amundsen to drive a shot through traffic and past David Ochoa in the 27’. Despite the best efforts of both sides, NYCFC and D.C. United headed to the locker room level at the half.

Set pieces are less of a stumbling block for the Black-and-Red as of late, and tonight’s performance did not disappoint. Captain Steve Birnbaum attacked a cross from Martín Rodríguez with a ferocious header to put D.C. United back in the lead in the 57’.

The moment Black-and-Red supporters were waiting for finally came late in the second half when Christian Benteke made his debut, replacing Ola Kamara in the 73’. By the 77’, Benteke had already fired a shot and proceeded to get into the thick of things immediately.

NYCFC ramped up their attack against D.C. United, continuing to seek an equalizer into the dying moments of the match. Gedion Zelalem took a final shot in the 90’ + 5’ trying to curl the ball into the upper corner of the net in an attempt to salvage a point for New York.

A deflection by David Ochoa set Zelalem’s shot off course, and the Black-and-Red claimed all three points as the whistle blew.

D.C. United returns home to face the Colorado Rapids on Sunday, September 4, at 7:30 pm ET.

Watch the highlights from NYCFC vs. D.C. United

Three Takeaways

  • Christian Benteke is here to build something special. Benteke made his much-anticipated debut for D.C. United in the 73’ and created his first chance in the 77’. Benteke took a plane directly from London to New York after getting his work visa so he could join the team for tonight’s match. He said, “For me today was important because it was my debut and you always want to start with a win. So it doesn’t matter if we don’t make the playoffs. I think the last six games left, we’re gonna build something for next season so we’ve got something to play for.”
  • Chris Durkin continues to shine. Chris Durkin continues to establish himself as a significant asset for the Black-and-Red, being involved in assist after assist and showing leadership on the pitch — even in the most challenging moments.
  • An eye on next season. While the 2022 season has been rocky at best for D.C. United. Head coach Wayne Rooney is already eyeing 2023. He said, “I think of course you have one eye on next season trying to build a squad which is capable of competing in this league, and so you’re looking to next season and also for the next game. It’s so important, so we want to try and build that mentality in the team.”

Box Score

MLS Regular Season - Game 28

NYCFC: 1 Héber 27’

D.C. United: 2 Ola Kamara 24’, Steve Birnbaum 57’


NYCFC: (4-2-3-1) Sean Johnson, Maxime Chanot, Tayvon Gray, Malte Amundsen (Matías Pellegrini 75’), Anton Tinnerholm (Vuk Latinovich 38’), Santiago Rodríguez, Justin Haak (Gedion Zelalem 64’), Nicolás Acevedo, Héber (Maxi Morález 64’), Talles Magno, Gabriel Pereira (Thiago Andrade 64’)

D.C. United: (4-4-2) David Ochoa, Steve Birnbaum, Donovan Pines, Andy Najar, Chris Odoi-Atsem, Russell Canouse, Martín Rodríguez (Ravel Morrison 82’), Chris Durkin, Ola Kamara (Christian Benteke 73’), Miguel Berry (Kristian Fletcher

Misconduct Summary

NYCFC: Acevedo 56’, Amundsen 62’, Latinovich 69’

D.C. United: Odoi-Atsem 22’, Rodríguez 25’, Fletcher 90’ + 3’