Updated: Apr 23
Starters: Pedro Gallese, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel (Rafael Santos 65′), Gaston Gonzalez, Antonio Carlos, Cesar Araujo, Mauricio Pereyra (Dagur Thorhallsson 68′), Ivan Angulo, Martin Ojeda (Ercan Kara 65′), Duncan McGuire (Ramiro Enrique 52′), Facundo Torres
Subs: Luca Petrasso, Kyle Smith, Michael Halliday, Abdi Salim, Mason Stajduhar, Felipe Martins, Wilder Cartagena
Captain: Ty Mauricio Pereyra
Formation - (3-4-3)
Starters: Tyler Miller, Ruan (Andy Najar 61′), Pedro Santos, Steven Birnbaum, Donovan Pines, Russell Canouse, Lewis O’Brien (Jackson Hopkins 87′), Mateusz Klich (Chris Durkin 79′), Victor Pálsson, Taxi Fountas (Yamil Asad 79′), Christian Benteke
Unused Subs: Alex Bono, Matai Akinmboni, Jacob Greene, Kristian Fletcher, Ted Ku-DiPietro
Captain: Steve Birnbaum
The Formation = 3-5-2
Orlando has truly become a place that DC likes to play as they earned their second win in a row, both coming on the road. This victory was a 3-1 domination of Orlando City SC in the most complete game the Black and Red have played since their last match in Orlando.
The opening score took place after Russell Canouse forced a turnover. His poke of the ball went to Taxi, who one-touch passed to Benteke, who directly tapped to Mateusz Klich, who found a sprinting Ruan along the right sideline, who played a first-time pass into Taxi Fountas who had started his run the moment he passed to Benteke.
Taxi found himself behind the defenders, and one-on-one with Orlando’s goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.
He was able to slot the ball into the net in the 15th minute, very reminiscent of many of his goals from last season.
The goal seemed to re-energize the Lions, who upped the intensity of their press. For the most part DC handled this well, until Antônio Carlos made a perfectly timed tackle on O’Brien at midfield, which sent Orlando City on a quick counter attack.
Martín Ojeda made a perfect pass which slipped the ball through to Duncan McGuire who took a clean first touch and ripped the ball past Tyler Miller who tried to come out of the goal to stop the score.
The equalizer by rookie Duncan McGuire was his third of the season. He scored his first at DC earlier this season.
The rest of the half played out with both teams playing dogged defense. Orlando would get one more quality shot on goal during extratime in the first half, but the header was easily smothered by Miller. For most of the first half, DC definitely showed more positive play, and though both teams went to the locker rooms even at the half, the Black and Red had to feel positive.
The second half started with DC on the front foot and them pinning Orlando City back. When the Lions did have the ball, they were forced to settle for a lot of side and back passes. The Black and Red on the other hand were showing a lot of confidence and were creating opportunities with the ball.
One such was a corner kick taken by Klich. He whipped in the kick to the head of Donovan Pines who was free at the near post. The lanky Center Back was able to finish off the cross with a beautiful header. It was Donovan Pines's first goal since 2020. The goal lifted United into the lead again: 2-1 through 53 minutes.
Play became a bit chippy at this point, especially on the part of Orlando. Antonio Carlos, who Pines had shrugged off on the lead up to his goal, picked up a cheap yellow when he dropped a shoulder into Tyler Miller after he made a save and was looking to quickly get the ball into a counter.
At this point DC seemed to take control of the match. Every time Orlando moved the ball forward, their attack was smothered by DC defenders. Andy Najar was brought on for Ruan, and what the team lost in speed, it made up for in ball control and dogged defense.
When United would force a turnover, you would see the quick transition to the attack that Wayne Rooney has been calling for, which often led to Orlando defense having to foul. One such foul led to the final score of the game.
Lewis O’Brien took a long free kick, just inside Orlando’s half. An Orlando defender tried to clear it with a header, but it only got as far as Victor Pálsson. The Icelander headed the ball back into the crowded box, to Christian Benteke.
The Belgian Striker outmuscled two Orlando defenders, controlled the ball off his chest, and then settled it with his foot, before he turned and scored with authority: 3-1 DCU through 64 minutes.
At this point DC would truly put all its focus on defending, falling back into a very flat 5-4-1. The team showed it has definitely improved in terms of team coordination on defense. Even when Rooney turned to his bench, and brought in Chris Durkin and Yamil Asad, there was no drop off in defensive intensity.
In the final fifteen minutes, Orlando was only able to get one truly dangerous shot on goal. On a corner kick, Orlando Center Forward got his head to the ball, just inches ahead of Steve Birnbaum, and redirected a laser shot on goal.
Tyler Miler was up for the challenge, as he instinctively deflected the shot wide. After that, Orlando was only able to get some easily defended crosses, and long distance prayers from Facundo Torres that were again saved by Miller or went wide.
Other than that there were long stretches where the Black and Red simply passed the ball around Orlando. If not for an errant header, the goalkeeper making a diving save, and the ball grazing his arm, Benteke could have scored two or three more times.
This was the most complete game of this young season for the whole team. While tonight’s goal scorers were Taxi Fountas, Donovan Pines, and Christian Benteke, this was a team victory in every sense. Wayne Rooney’s ongoing rebuild of the club is starting to show results.
Notes From the Couch:
Wayne Rooney showed he is not wed to any one strategy, but is willing to make changes necessary to give DC a chance to succeed.
For the first time this season Rooney was basically able to keep the same lineup, with Pedro Santos starting for Mo Jeahze
Taxi has scored in every match he’s played against the Lions
If Taxi and Benteke start scoring, this team will be dangerous
Duncan McGuire is proving to be a thorn for United
The passing and movement of DC United is getting better and better, as a sense of familiarity sets in
Pedro Santos is a better defender than I expected, and his slide tackles are a thing of beauty
O'Brien isn't having his best game, but DC is still controlling the middle of the field
Taxi is having fun
Benteke is a man among boys tonight
Yamil Asad is having an excellent game and seems to have found his role
“One Planet Kits” are really COOL.
Words from the Gaffer:
Wayne Rooney: “The preparation was obviously very difficult this week to prepare because we knew they played a back four quite a lot. And the previous game knew, they played Minnesota and won away from home in the back three. So, we weren’t quite sure which way they were gonna go. We stuck with what we were doing. We stuck with the team that beat Montréal last week for us, believed in that, and asked them to go do it again. So, it was more about us than Orlando.”
Player Ratings (FotMob):
Tyler Miller 7.5
Pedro Santos 7.5
Steve Birnbaum. 7.8
Donovan Pines 8.1
Victor Pálsson 7.8
Russell Canouse 7.1
Lewis O’Brien. 6.0
Mateusz Klich 8.0
Taxi Fuentas. 7.7
Christian Benteke 8.2
Chris Durkin 6.3
Yamil Asad 6.7
Andy Najar. 6.3
Jackson Hopkins. N/A
Next Match: DC United return home for the US Open Cup to play Richmond Kickers on Wednesday, April 25th, at 7:30 pm ET.