After proving there is more to their offense than just Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta, D.C. United look to make it back-to-back wins Sunday while preventing New York City FC from claiming their first win of 2019.
While Rooney, who has a team-high four goals, was back in the fold after serving a red card suspension in D.C.’s scoreless draw at Montreal, he was largely a non-factor in United’s 3-2 victory at Colorado on April 13. Acosta did open the scoring, set up by homegrown player Donovan Pines – making his MLS debut.
Another homegrown player, midfielder Chris Durkin, scored a goal in his season debut while Lucas Rodriguez chipped in a goal and an assist as the Eagles (4-1-2) survived a late push from the Rapids for the three points.
“I thought Durkin put in a good solid performance as well,” United coach Ben Olsen said post-match. “It’s nice for him to get the goal. What it allows for now is increased depth and guys you can rely on. It also builds a little team spirit and a little competition which is always healthy as well.”
Durkin could be in line for more playing time with defender Chris McCann sidelined by a hamstring injury and Leonardo Jara in jeopardy of missing a second straight contest with a shoulder injury.
New York City (0-1-5) is tied for ninth in the East on five points despite being the only team in the conference without a victory. NYCFC picked up a road point in entertaining fashion last weekend, scrambling to a 3-3 draw at Minnesota United as they opened Allianz Field.
Goalkeeper Sean Johnson had a howler of an own goal that put the Boys in Blue in danger of losing, but Ismael Tajouri-Shradi grabbed an equalizer in the 64th minute and completed his brace. Valentin Castellanos scored the other goal for NYCFC, but the striker is questionable for this match after suffering a concussion in the closing minutes of last weekend’s match.
“Sean Johnson is amazing, he has personality. After we concede the goal, because everybody conceded the goal, we played amazing. He played with confidence,” coach Dome Torrent said. “That’s the most important thing, he has the personality to keep playing with the top teams. I’m very proud of him, because it’s not easy after that happens to play with confidence.”
Johnson played well in the first meeting between the teams in a scoreless draw March 10, finishing with three saves. That is one of two clean sheets Johnson has posted for NYCFC, while it is one of four D.C. keeper Bill Hamid has recorded. Hamid finished with six saves in that contest, including a diving save in the 89th minute to deny midfielder Alexander Ring and preserve a split of the points.
(Chris Durkin photo courtesy D.C. United official Twitter account)