Wayne Rooney’s first ever DC United were treated to a stunning win.

Wayne Rooney’s first ever DC United were treated to a stunning win.

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Minutes before the start of DC United’s game against Orlando City on Sunday, Wayne Rooney climbed the steps behind the Audi Field South goal to a standing ovation from the crowd.

It’s been four years since he arrived in Washington as a player, but in his second visit, he takes on the responsibilities of a head coach tasked with rebuilding a team in dire straits.

Rooney rekindled the magic he had injected in attack in 2018 and 2019 in the next two hours. Not only did United win in the dying seconds when they were looking at another defeat and the points were falling. Time, 2-1.

Chris Durkin scored on the hour mark from the penalty area, then Taxi Falls volleyed in from 12 yards to spark a frenzy among Buzzard Point’s 15,805.

“The season has to start now,” said Rooney, who was hired three weeks ago but was restricted to an advisory role until he received a work visa late last week. “Character is a big word I’ve used with the team over the last couple of weeks. We need to be a team that shows a lot of character and fight and togetherness.

After falling early, United (6-12-3) showed those qualities in an impressive second half, winning for just the second time since early May.

“It’s exactly what we need,” defender Brendan Hines-Icke said. We have to know we can win games. You lose so many games, you forget what it’s like to win.

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United’s persistence finally paid off in spectacular fashion. After the first minute of the final, substitute Ola Kamara headed home a cross from the left sideline for Durkin’s added effort and first goal of the year.

“When we got the goal we were still pushing and we still wanted to score another goal,” Durkin said.

Substitute Martin Rodriguez delivered the long ball to Kimarni Smith. Smith slotted the ball from the left into the center of the box and Fauntas once again scored a team-best 11th goal in the right corner. Four weeks ago, Fauntas recorded a hat trick in Orlando.

Captain Steven Birnbaum said: “I’m proud that the boys didn’t stop for a tie game.

As a player, Rooney cemented his place in United history with a string of goals and assists, including a 60-yarder, against Orlando (8-9-6). As a manager, with United undergoing roster changes and his team at the bottom of the table, his influence on Sunday was limited.

What he did was give his players the freedom to express their beliefs and opinions.

“The biggest thing I’ve seen in my research on the team is that when a player makes a mistake, they suffer and then struggle to come back,” Rooney said. “I understand players make mistakes – that’s okay. I want them to try things. I want them to risk the ball in the right places. And if you make a mistake and give the ball away, try again. That’s part of the game. Giving players that mental freedom and being able to do that starts to make a difference. .

It didn’t start well. Orlando took the lead in the ninth minute and it was the fifth time in seven games that United had scored in the first 15 minutes.

After a DC gift in midfield, Alexandre Pato took a shot from the top of the box and headed the ball forward to Junior Urso. When goalkeeper Rafael Romo was off the line, Urso scored with a delicate flick to the far side.

In the 28th minute, Romo was caught going forward with a long ball and the defenders scrambled to cover the open net, leaving Pato unmarked. 10 minutes later, Orlando’s Benji Michel missed an open net.

The game started last weekend with Chilean winger Rodríguez starting to wobble at half-time. Waterfalls had a fantastic chance to equalize in the 61st minute but Pedro Gallese made a brilliant save.

United burst with energy and luck, culminating in two late strikes.

“Now it’s about consistency,” Hines-Ike said. “Can DC United put together a streak? Or will it go back to its old ways in the last few months? We can no longer accept it.

Here’s what else you need to know about United’s win:

Trinity Rodman scored twice, but the Spirit’s winless streak continued.

Romo made his eighth straight start and Jon Kempin was the usual backup, but the pecking order is set to change with the acquisition of David Ochoa from Real Salt Lake last week.

Ochoa, 21, is scheduled to travel to Charlotte on Wednesday and appears guaranteed to start. In this case, Romo drops to No. 2 on the depth chart.

Longtime starter Bill Hamid, in the final year of his contract, continues to recover from a hand injury that required June 30 surgery. The initial timetable for a return was two to three months.

Estrada is out on the roster again.

Striker Michael Estrada was a healthy scratch for the second game in a row, a possible sign that United are planning to end his season-long loan at Mexican club Toluca soon. The Ecuador national team member has four goals and four assists in 16 league games (11 starts), but has not scored since May 21.

United has an option to buy out his contract after this season for $5 million. By returning him to Toluca, the club will clear a senior roster spot, including an international slot. …

Striker Nigel Robert, who has one goal and three assists in 14 matches, is also out. He is under contract until 2023…

Midfielders Russell Canuz (foot injury) and Ted Coo-DiPietro (covid recovery) are absent. Midfielder Viktor Paulsen, who was bought from German club Schalke last week, is awaiting a work visa. …

Rooney’s debut wasn’t just a Sunday. Well-traveled attacking midfielder Ravel Morrison, who played for Rooney at Derby County, started 90 minutes.

Beginning with the Six Minute Applause On July 24, 2009, a minute’s applause was held at the DC Area Soccer Club in memory of long-time and long-time player Lane Oliver. He was 88 years old. Family members present at the scene wore jerseys. Number 6, Oliver’s number as a player.

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