The scoreline of the evening may have remained 0-0, but those numbers alone don’t tell the whole story. The Black-and-Red are in the midst of a rebuild under the guidance of head coach Wayne Rooney. He has already implemented a new system and significantly overhauled the roster, bringing in new signings to bolster the team.
One of these signings, DP Christian Benteke, made his home debut, playing all 90’ of the match. (Another Benteke, his younger brother Jonathan, made his debut for USL side Loudoun United this evening, converting a penalty.)
Colorado arrived in the District prepared, with their top three goal-scorers in the XI - Diego Rubio, Gyasi Zardes, and Lalas Abubakar. Despite D.C.’s position in last place of the Eastern Conference, the Rapids didn’t underestimate the ability of Rooney’s men, and it’s a good thing they didn’t.
By the 6’, Benteke and Martín Rodríguez had already created a dangerous chance. Rodríguez fired a shot from distance to find Benteke waiting in the box. Benteke went for a diving header, but the shot went wide. Rodríguez would continue to find his teammates in opportune positions, offering up precision service to help them create chances.
Sam Nicholson was able to win the ball from Andy Najar in the final third and find Felipe Gutiérrez lined up well with D.C.’s net in the 26’. Gutiérrez fired off a shot through traffic, but it was deflected by the Black-and-Red’s backline.
In a nail-biting moment to end the first half, Rubio took aim from distance. David Ochoa dove to make the save, but the ball went wide to the left, resulting in a corner for the Rapids.
Despite end-to-end play, D.C. and Colorado headed to the locker rooms scoreless at the half.
Rubio, Michael Barrios, and Zardes came knocking on the door early in the second half, forcing yet another save from Ochoa in the 55’. Zardes was able to pick his way through D.C.’s backline and took his shot in another tense moment for the Black-and-Red.
In the 64’, a handball offense by Keegan Rosenberry would see D.C. United awarded a penalty kick. Christian Benteke stepped up to take the shot in a moment that seemed sure to put the Black-and-Red ahead of the visitors. Unfortunately for D.C., Benteke failed to convert, and the match remained scoreless as Yarborough made the first penalty save in his MLS career.
Rodríguez went down after a hard challenge in the 74’ in obvious pain. He would be replaced by Kimarni Smith, and play continued, with the Black-and-Red seeking to gain the advantage. Ravel Morrison took a shot from distance but skied the ball over the crossbar in the 84’.
Max found Zardes immediately in front of D.C.’s goal in the 86’. As Zardes slid into the shot, Ochoa came up big for the Black-and-Red, diving to deflect his attempt and denying Colorado.
Ochoa would make a final save in the 90’ + 5’ to seal a clean sheet for D.C., diving to reject Jonathan Lewis’ attempt. At the final whistle, the deadlock remained, and D.C. United and Colorado would split points.
Alas, the scoreline didn’t reflect the totality of the Black-and-Red’s performance. Wayne Rooney said, “we created enough chances tonight to win the game and to score. It didn’t happen. We’ll keep working on that and training to try and improve and improve in front of goal. But the positive thing from my point of view is we created some really good chances, and another day we score two, three goals.”
D.C. United next faces Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium on September 10 at 9:30 pm ET.
Watch the highlights from D.C. United vs. Colorado Rapids
MLS Regular Season - Game 29
D.C. United: 0
Colorado Rapids: 0
D.C. United: (4-4-2) David Ochoa, Steve Birnbaum, Donovan Pines, Andy Najar, Chris Odoi-Atsem (Jackson Hopkins 90’), Russell Canouse, Victor Pálsson, Martín Rodríguez (Kimarni Smith 77’), Chris Durkin (Ravel Morrison 77’), Miguel Berry (Ola Kamara 68’), Christian Benteke
Colorado Rapids: (4-2-3-1) William Yarbrough, Keegan Rosenberry, Lalas Abubakar, Steven Beitashour, Diego Rubio, Felipe Gutiérrez, Bryan Acosta, Gyasi Zardes, Sam Nicholson (Max Alves da Silva 83’), Michael Barrios (Jonathan Lewis 62’)
D.C. United: Birnbaum 57’
Colorado Rapids: Rubio 84’, Zardes 74’, Beitashour 90’+5’