Wayne Rooney told his D.C. United players that “there’s no chance he’s going to end up at the bottom again” ahead of the season.
Though it’s early days with DC’s record 1-1-2 after New York City FC posted a 3-2 victory, they just can’t afford a first half like the one on display at Yankee Stadium on Saturday night, or they will be competing. on the wrong side of the table once again.
It wouldn’t have been a surprise to hear more expletives blaring from the visiting head coach’s visiting locker room at halftime. Rooney confirmed that was the case in his post-match press conference.
“I don’t think I can give the language that I used if I’m being honest,” Rooney said of his halftime message. “I wanted to see a reaction from the team.
‘I thought the first half wasn’t good enough. I don’t know why. I could have taken all the players out at half time. I told the players.
DC United captain Steve Birnbaum headed the ball into the net to create a nervous side, but it was too late.
Wayne Rooney’s DC side performed woefully in the first half and it was too much of an uphill task.
‘I made three changes. In the second half I thought we were unlucky not to get anything out of the game. He was pleased with the reaction. The first half cost us the game.’
Nick Cushing’s NYCFC finished third in the Eastern Conference last season, 28 points clear of DC, and they have strong foundations.
The hosts were sharper in all departments in the first period and it took just 17 minutes for them to open the scoring.
It was harder for striker Talles Magno to miss than to score when he was faced with the simple task of touching the ball from just a few yards.
The space was created by Keaton Parks’ defense split pass to full-back Braian Cufre on the overlap. New York City was behind DC and Magno was there waiting in the middle for the square pass.
Cufre duly complied, and although Magno had to stretch a bit from behind, he found the net. But the hosts were forced to wait to celebrate after the linesman flagged offside.
Referee Mark Allatin was sent to the pitchside monitor to watch the play after the goal went for video review. After a bit of a delay, the opening goal was conceded.
Magno had already warned the visitors in the first 10 minutes but was unable to connect his shot well when the ball crossed his path in the area.
Talles Magno opened the scoring in just 17 minutes, striking the ball from close range.
Santiago Rodríguez doubled the local advantage 20 minutes later after dodging the offside trap
Rodríguez is surrounded by his teammates after scoring New York City FC’s second goal
Moments after tiebreaker Matias Pellegrini nearly scored what would have been a contender for goal of the season, even at this early stage.
The striker got a good look at DC goalkeeper Tyler Miller outside his goal and tried his luck from the midfield. His aim was off, but the goalie had to move.
DC prepared to shut down their opponents in a 4-5-1 formation and struggled for meaningful possession in the first half with former Premier League striker Christian Benteke isolated at the top.
He provided the opportunity for DC’s first shot of the game as he held the ball well and passed it to Nigel Robertha on the half hour mark.
The 25-year-old had only one thought on his mind, moving the ball inside and firing a left-footed effort on goal. NYCFC goalie Luis Barraza sprang into action and deflected the ball.
Christian Benteke stunned New York City early in the second half, recovering a goal
The former Premier League striker rose and headed home on goal in the 46th minute.
Ten minutes later, New York City pushed through the DC defense with little trouble once again to double their lead.
Santiago Rodríguez beat the offside trap with DC’s light at the back following Pellegrini’s clever boot pass off the line.
One by one with Miller Rodríguez on the scoreboard.
But Rooney and DC have quality in their team and ultimately that is what could propel them further up the table this season. There was a much-needed improvement in the second period.
Former England top flight players Benteke and Mateusz Klich can create something out of nothing, and midfielder Lewis O’Brien is on loan from Nottingham Forest.
Former Liverpool, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace striker Benteke stunned the home side and the NYCFC faithful straight from the start after half-time, rising high to blast a header into the net.
With just one goal, DC always had a chance. In the 69th minute they almost equalized when Barraza was forced to make a great double save.
New York City tried to control the closing stages of the game, but DC still held out hope with no sign of a third goal.
Once again a cross reaches Benteke, this time at the far post. He did a spectacular bicycle kick and fluffed up the lines of him.
Almost immediately after the hosts’ substitute, Thiago Andrade, got his third goal of the game in a one-on-one game in the 88th minute. Game over? No.
Russell Canouse (6) of DC United fights for the ball against Matias Pellegrini of New York City
There was still life left in DC as they conjured something out of nothing once again. Captain Steve Birnbaum headed the ball past Barraza from a corner kick to set up a nervous winger.
The two goals came at very bad times. One right after halftime that shocked us and then another right after our goal that doesn’t give us a chance to get a foothold and control the game and finish the game off,” Cushing said after the game.
Benteke and Birnbaum could have equalized in stoppage time, but their efforts were agonizingly wide.
DC has quality but also a lot of fighting. They gave themselves too much to do this time.
What Rooney said at halftime worked. Maybe the preseason message from him will finally hit home, too.