D.C. United celebrate Wayne Rooney's goal
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DC United lack sharpness, but Wayne Rooney does his job in rare road win

D.C. United have finished the first month of the 2019 atop the Eastern Conference, with an unbeaten 3-0-1 record after a 2-1 win over Orlando City SC on Sunday at Orlando City Stadium.

While the team, who orchestrated a "worst to playoffs" turnaround over the course of the 2018 season, entered this year as title contenders, Sunday's win was their first on the road in 11 months in league play.

"It's been a while since we were able to win on the road and it's good to get this one out of the way," D.C. head coach Ben Olsen told reporters after the game. 

In spite of the win, expectations are raised this year and the team wasn't altogether happy with the performance, with Wayne Rooney calling it "a bit naive."

"I think when we won the ball back in our own half, we panicked a bit and were really just cleaning it rather than composing ourselves, taking a touch or maybe a five-yard pass, which will open them up a little bit, then create a bit more space to hit them on the break," said the English superstar.

"They had a lot of players in that area and one pass could've took four or even five players out of the game for us. But we didn't do that, we defended well and then rather than playing out, we were just kicking it. That made it difficult, because the ball kept coming back in."

Olsen agreed with that assessment.

"On the day, we weren't very sharp, we looked like it was a real struggle for large portions of the game," he said. "Maybe it's the heat, maybe it's a bye week – just a hair off, and the sharpness just wasn't there, technically and some of the decision-making."

Rooney, who set up Steve Birnbaum's opener before scoring a near-olimpico off a free kick in the first half, was doing his job to help carry D.C. through the game, said Olsen.

"It's what we got Wayne for, to make special plays, and he did that tonight. There's no doubt that he tried that [goal] and he's in really good form," he said.

Rooney admitted he started lining up the shot "as soon as the ref gives it. It was an area where if you put a ball in the area, you give it a chance of scoring or of someone else scoring and you force the 'keeper to try and make a save."

Even Olsen was impressed.

"I didn't necessarily think he was going to do that but I've seen it in training a few times and I can't take credit for it. You'll have to ask him about it," he said with a smile. "It was a hell of a strike."

Olsen admitted that even with the shaky play in holding on for the win, "lessons are easier with three points."

And now United will gear up for an early-season top-of-the-table clash, as they welcome LAFC to Audi Field on Saturday (3 pm ET | FOX in US; MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada).

"I think the group's excited about the three points but they also understand it wasn't the greatest night, and I think that's a healthy balance for this group," said Olsen. "Obviously a big game coming up on the weekend, that we'll be looking forward to coming to town in LAFC."


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