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Rooneyball Heartbreak

DC United at the New York Red Bulls, Sunday night (August 20) in Harrison, NJ. A time guaranteed to minimize the number of fans that can make the trip up from the DC area. I happened to be in New Jersey visiting a cousin and was one of maybe 15 or 20 DC fans in our domicile in Section 220 of Red Bull Arena. There weren’t a lot of Red Bull fans, either; I’d say the stadium was 40% full.

With Taxi Fountas now officially gone and Matheus Klich out from a red card last game, our offense was severely limited. Coach Rooney played a lineup that reminded me of the days of Bennyball under Ben Olsen; defense first, hope for a counterattack, win (or draw) ugly. We played five defenders (although interestingly, not Donovan Pines or our new acquisition Eric Davis): Birnbaum, Derrick Williams, Hines-Ike, Ruan and Santos. Our new Panamanian midfielder, Gabriel Pirani, got a start and went 70 minutes. He had some promising moments, but our midfield possession was limited. Cristian Dajome was up top with Benteke; neither got much service.

While New York had the majority of possession and more shots, the game looked like it could end in a scoreless draw (which I’m sure would have pleased Rooney, as it seemed to be what he was playing for). Unfortunately, an unncessary foul at the top of the box late led to a free kick, and John Tolkin curled the effort around the wall and into the corner of the net in the 88th minute. Tyler Miller got there but it bounced over his hand. So a 1-0 loss, dropping us into 10th place in the Eastern Conference.

We now play 5 of our next 6 games at home, starting with Philadelphia next Saturday (the 26th; also Pride Night), followed by Chicago on September 2 and San Jose on September 9. After an away trip to Charlotte on the 16th, we have two home games in 3 days: Atlanta on the 20th, and the Red Bulls again on the 23rd. We then finish with 3 games in 8 days: away to Vancouver on September 30, away to Austin on October 4, and the season final on October 7 at home against NYCFC.

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