D.C. United protection tightens, assault sputters in draw with Red Bulls


D.C. United has introduced good vibes again to Audi Discipline by means of a high-profile hiring and several other signings of late. A well-known determine (Wayne Rooney) is pacing the sideline, a Premier League striker (Christian Benteke) is on his manner, and a possible beginning goalkeeper (David Ochoa) is nearing his debut.

The trick now could be changing strikes into momentum, even when the MLS playoffs are nearly out of attain.

Saturday’s 0-0 draw with the New York Red Bulls yielded United’s first defensive shutout in three months however no high-quality scoring possibilities earlier than an introduced 16,258 at Buzzard Level.

Eyeing incremental steps as his squad takes form, Rooney saluted the defensive efficiency.

“For us to move forward, we have to be better defensively,” he mentioned. “It’s a real positive.”

New York completed with 13 pictures however only one on objective; D.C. defenders blocked seven makes an attempt and guarded goalkeeper Rafael Romo from any actual hazard.

After conceding early targets in six of the earlier eight matches, United was sharp. Even with a makeshift again line that included second-year attacker Kimarni Smith at left again, D.C. executed well-timed tackles and labored effectively collectively.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve had a zero,” mentioned captain Steven Birnbaum, a middle again. “It’s been weighing on us, and it’s been weighing on me.”

After a promising begin, although, the assault by no means received going. The Red Bulls (10-7-7) had conceded 13 targets within the earlier three matches, together with a U.S. Open Cup semifinal rout in Orlando, however was barely fazed by the hosts. United (6-13-4) had additionally confronted a weak opponent Wednesday in Charlotte however didn’t handle to attain, and it has now gone with no objective in 4 of the previous seven outings.

United had 4 pictures Saturday, two on objective. Rooney cited the dearth of creativity within the closing third of the sector, however D.C.’s points are additionally tied to evolving chemistry.

Of the six new acquisitions, three began Saturday: striker Miguel Berry, midfielder Ravel Morrison and winger Martín Rodríguez. Benteke and defensive midfielder Victor Palsson are awaiting work visas, and Ochoa is engaged on health.

As he waits for a full forged, Rooney is implementing his system, imploring quicker play and elevating work price.

“I see some improvement,” rookie midfielder Sofiane Djeffal mentioned. “Mentality-wise, it’s way better. We have 11, 15, 20 fighters. … We’re learning a new shape. We’re learning a new way to play.”

The primary half was marked by extra damage stoppages than scoring alternatives. United misplaced rookie midfielder Jackson Hopkins to a knee ailment within the forty first minute. He was changed by Taxi Fountas, the group’s high scorer who initially was being saved for the second half after leaving Wednesday’s match at halftime with groin tightness.

The primary real risk got here within the 62nd minute, when New York’s Patryk Klimala despatched an angled bid a whisker huge of the far nook.

Together with his group unable to generate possibilities, Rooney made three modifications within the 77th minute. Nonetheless, United sputtered.

“We’re trying to put a really good squad together,” Rooney mentioned. “We’ve brought some really good players in. Once we get them all in and fit and on the pitch, I think we will have a very good team. And then we want to move forward. We’re not just focusing on this season. We’re focusing on next season and beyond.”

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

Hines-Ike seeks second opinion

United has but to announce a prognosis and prognosis for defender Brendan Hines-Ike, who injured a foot Wednesday. He’ll search a second opinion however in all chance will miss the remainder of the season. Hines-Ike began 20 matches. …

Forwards Michael Estrada (4 targets and 4 assists) and Nigel Robertha (one and three) had been left off the game-day roster for the fourth consecutive match. Neither is injured.

Estrada, an Ecuadoran on mortgage from Toluca in Mexico, turned down a proposed commerce, folks accustomed to his standing mentioned. Ought to he discover a suitor overseas, one individual mentioned, he and United would terminate his contract. He wants taking part in time to solidify his case for making Ecuador’s World Cup roster. …

Fullback Chris Odoi-Atsem, who began the earlier two matches, wasn’t obtainable after coming into the well being and security protocols.

Benteke eyeing Aug. 20 debut

Benteke, who signed with United this week from Crystal Palace, might make his MLS debut Aug. 20 in opposition to the visiting Philadelphia Union, group officers mentioned.

The striker is scheduled to go to the D.C. space this coming week to start orienting himself with new teammates and the teaching workers and discover housing.

Saturday marked the 99th assembly (common season and playoffs) between MLS founding members and determined the annual Atlantic Cup, awarded to the winner of the common season collection. The Red Bulls received the crown.

With Fountas sidelined by again spasms, the Red Bulls received the primary common season conflict, 4-1, on Might 28 in Harrison, N.J. The groups additionally met within the U.S. Open Cup on Might 10, with the Red Bulls profitable, 3-0, in Washington.

Congested calendar continues

United ended a stretch of three matches in seven days Saturday and can now have per week to organize for 3 in eight days: at New England subsequent Saturday, at MLS Cup favourite Los Angeles FC on Aug. 16 and at dwelling 4 days later vs. cup contender Philadelphia.

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