Christian Benteke debuts and D.C. United defeats New York City FC


HARRISON, N.J. — Christian Benteke is not any savior. There may be, in spite of everything, nothing to avoid wasting of this D.C. United season, which can finish in 5½ weeks with out an MLS playoff berth for the third consecutive fall.

However the Belgian striker, contemporary off 10 years within the Premier League, has joined D.C. United’s renovation challenge, which can carry right into a busy winter of roster adjustments.

After ready weeks for a piece visa — then flying on to New York from London on Tuesday to affix his new membership — Benteke made his United debut Wednesday by getting into within the 73rd minute of a shock 2-1 victory over reigning champion New York City FC at Purple Bull Enviornment.

“We are delighted to have him,” Coach Wayne Rooney mentioned. “I think he will make a difference for us.”

United’s prized summer time signing will, in a full season, turn into the highest-paid participant in membership historical past, a yet-to-be-disclosed determine that can surpass Rooney’s contract when he performed for United in 2018 and 2019.

Regardless of the whirlwind 24 hours of journey and acclimation, Benteke mentioned that “when you’re excited, when you look forward to a new challenge, you don’t think about being tired from a flight. You just want to play games.”

He changed Ola Kamara, who had given United the lead within the first half. After NYC shortly tied it, United went again forward early within the second half on captain Steven Birnbaum’s header.

“He’s going to work, and he’s going to hold up [the ball],” Birnbaum mentioned of Benteke. “Obviously he’s a threat in front of goal. We’re excited to build around him and get this going.”

In his transient look, Benteke had minor affect as NYC pressed for a late equalizer and loved harmful possession. Nonetheless, United (7-17-4) ended a four-game shedding streak and a six-match winless rut with its second victory in 12 outings.

Rooney had hoped to pair Benteke with all-star Taxi Fountas, however the Greek ahead suffered a concussion Sunday in Atlanta. If Fountas clears protocols, the duo would possibly begin collectively — or a minimum of play on the similar time — Sunday evening towards the Colorado Rapids at Audi Area.

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For the second consecutive match, United scored first. For the second consecutive match, United conceded the equalizer virtually straight away.

Kamara offered the lead within the twenty fourth minute. Chris Durkin did effectively to interrupt free on the left facet earlier than crossing into the six-yard field, the place Kamara didn’t have a defender inside yards of him. He tapped it in for his ninth objective.

On Sunday, Atlanta wanted two minutes to reply. On Wednesday, NYC (13-9-6) took three. Malte Amundsen crossed to Brazilian ahead Héber for a 13-yard one-timer that took a deflection en path to the goal and zipped previous goalkeeper David Ochoa.

D.C. regained the lead within the 57th minute. In entrance of the United bench, Martín Rodríguez launched a protracted free kick to the again facet of the field. Birnbaum’s eight-yard header got here off goalkeeper Sean Johnson’s hand and settled into the far nook for his second objective.

With a small crowd giving off a preseason vibe, United carried itself like a house staff hungry for an additional objective slightly than an away facet content material with a lead. NYC turned to its bench, inserting playmaker Maxi Moralez, who often begins.

United’s protection held agency, and in stoppage time, Ochoa made a spectacular hovering save on Gedion Zelalem’s bid from distance.

“Unbelievable,” Birnbaum mentioned.

“It’s actually really good when Wayne Rooney tells you that it was a good save,” Ochoa mentioned.

Rooney was happy with the end result — however not too happy.

“Sometimes I can look a bit miserable after winning games because winning one game of football is not good enough,” he mentioned. “I’m trying to change the mentality in there. We have to go again Sunday.”

Right here’s what else to find out about United’s victory:

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Following his pledge to combine younger gamers, Rooney included new homegrown signings Kristian Fletcher, 17, and Matai Akinmboni, 15, on the game-day roster. Fletcher, The Washington Put up’s All-Met Participant of the Yr final fall from Landon Faculty, entered within the 88th minute. Each will proceed taking part in for second-division Loudoun United.

“I’m a coach who believes in young players,” Rooney mentioned, “and giving players a chance.”

Akinmboni, who will flip 16 in October, is a 6-foot-3 heart again from the membership’s youth academy. Fletcher, an attacker, performed youth soccer at Bethesda Soccer Membership and received’t formally be part of the primary staff till January. On Wednesday, he was on mortgage from Loudoun.

Midfielder Moses Nyeman, 18, grew to become the third homegrown to switch abroad this yr when United struck a take care of Beveren in Belgium’s second division. Phrases weren’t disclosed, however two individuals accustomed to the deal mentioned United acquired $350,000 and 25 % of any future switch.

Kevin Paredes (Wolfsburg in Germany) and Griffin Yow (Westerlo in Belgium) even have gone overseas.

United is in preliminary talks with Ochoa’s agent a few long-term contract, three individuals near the state of affairs mentioned. Ochoa, who has acquired curiosity from European golf equipment, is within the final yr of his MLS deal. If he have been to go overseas, United would retain his MLS rights.

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