D.C. United-Rapids Preview
Waiting on both his health and potentially additional league discipline, D.C. United hopes to have Wayne Rooney available for its match Saturday against the Colorado Rapids.
Rooney missed his first match since joining United last season due to a red card issued in a 4-0 loss to Los Angeles FC last Saturday. England's all-time leading scorer was sorely missed in Tuesday's goalless home draw versus Montreal as D.C. (3-1-2) failed to register any of its seven shots on target.
The forward was not at the match due to flu-like symptoms that also forced him to miss practice Wednesday, and the team is hoping the league does not add an additional match ban for the red card.
"His habits on the field are so contagious to some of our young guys in how to go about the game and make the right play and dig in when you need to," United coach Ben Olsen said of Rooney, who has totaled 15 goals and 10 assists in his 24 matches since arriving in the nation's capital. "On both sides of the ball his habits are great, and nobody else can look at that and not follow his lead."
The United attacking player most affected was Luciano Acosta, who has formed a solid partnership with Rooney and totaled 10 goals and 12 assists since the former England international joined the club.
Colorado (0-4-2) would not mind if Rooney was forced to miss this match considering it has allowed a league-worst 16 goals - 10 of them coming in its current three-game losing streak. That porous defense contributed to a 4-3 loss at Orlando City SC last Saturday, squandering a 3-2 lead in the final 11 minutes.
Rapids coach Anthony Hudson was incensed Nani was not sent off in the 74th minute when it appeared he head-butted Kellyn Acosta twice without any discipline from referee Jair Marrufo.
"At 3-2, if we do what Nani does to us, I'm stood here asking questions why we can't keep our discipline and we are down to 10 men," Hudson told reporters according to the Orlando Sentinel. "And it seems to be every week and it seems to be where it's easy for them to, you know, for that to happen against us.
"Every game, every week, and I don't want to sound like I'm blaming other things, but that's the bottom line. If anyone looks at it, the guy had three attempts to head-butt Kellyn. I think, listen in, think the bottom line is I probably wish some of our players were a little bit ... probably Kellyn should dive. Probably Kellyn should fall over and pretend like he's been hit in the head."
Cole Bassett had a goal and an assist for the Rapids, who have not given keeper Tim Howard much help. The former U.S. No. 1 is tied for second in MLS with 21 saves and also second in shots on goal faced with 34.
Rooney and Acosta traded goals, but it was an own goal by Rapids defender Niki Jackson in the 90th minute that was the difference in United's 2-1 home victory last July 28. It also extended D.C.'s unbeaten streak in the series to eight matches (4-0-4) since a 4-1 Rapids victory in 2011.
Updated April 11, 2019