In another magical evening at Audi Field in Washington D.C., Wayne Rooney carried D.C. United to a resounding 5–0 victory against Real Salt Lake on Saturday night. The veteran English striker bagged his first career MLS hat-trick and was instrumental in every attacking move for the Black-and-Red. Lucas ‘Titi’ Rodriguez and Ulises Segura also got on the scoresheet to complete an emphatic win at home and allow United to climb the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
The first half of Saturday night’s game was a tactical affair, with both teams studying each other and looking reluctant to truly take charge of the match. During the first 30 minutes of play, both teams traded long spells of possession without generating any clear chances on either goal. The turning point in the match came in the 34th minute when Real Salt Lake defender Marcelo Silva stepped on D.C. United forward Paul Arriola inside the box, and the referee was forced to point to the spot following a lengthy VAR review. The experienced Rooney coolly slotted the ensuing penalty into the bottom right corner and kickstarted the rout.
Seven minutes later, Wayne Rooney added a second goal to his name after a brilliant assist by brand new signing Leonardo Jara. The former Boca Juniors fullback pounced on a loose ball in transition and delivered a surgical pass to leave Rooney one-on-one with Real Salt Lake keeper Nick Rimando. The former Manchester United captain rolled back the years with a classy chip over Rimando and sent the home crowd into a frenzy.
After one minute of added time at the end of the first half, Savarino was sent off for kicking Lucho Acosta in the face, adding to Real Salt Lake’s misery.
In the second half, D.C. United did not let up and came out of the dressing room searching to draw more blood. In the 65th minute of play, United found a third thanks to a brilliant team move that served to highlight how dynamic, dangerous, and fun D.C. United can be at their best. After a slaloming run into the teeth of the defense, Lucho Acosta played the ball out wide to Junior Moreno, who delivered a low cross for Wayne Rooney to tap in and complete his hat-trick.
Shortly after D.C. United’s third goal, defender Marcelo Silva was sent off after receiving a second yellow card, leaving Real Salt Lake down to nine men with over twenty minutes left to play. Things would only get worse from there for Real Salt Lake.
In the 74th minute, Wayne Rooney turned provider and set up 21-year-old Lucas ‘Titi’ Rodriguez for a stunning goal that could well be one of the best scored so far this season. In a play straight from the training ground, Rooney drove a corner towards the top of the box to an awaiting Lucas Rodriguez, who smashed a curling volley past Nick Rimando. It was Rodriguez’s first MLS goal, and he celebrated in style with his girlfriend Lucia Kronig in the stands.
Towards the end of the match, substitute Ulises Segura also joined the festivities by adding a fifth goal for the Black-and-Red. Just like in United’s second goal, Real Salt Lake’s defense lost a ball in transition, which this time allowed Segura to get a one-on-one and dink the ball into the net past a dejected Rimando.
Despite the cold weather, D.C. United delivered a sizzling performance on Saturday night to reach the top of the Eastern Conference and once again reaffirm themselves as serious contenders this season. With Wayne Rooney delivering a vintage performance and an offense firing on all cylinders, D.C. United seem to have picked up right where they left off last season.
On top of it all, D.C. United have been able to string three shutouts in a row and are the only team in the MLS to have yet conceded a goal this season. With a solid back line and heavy artillery up top, soccer fans in the District should be excited for what is to come this 2019 season.