WASHINGTON — Already trailing 3-0 at halftime, D.C. United's hopes of a stirring comeback diminished to near nil after Wayne Rooney received his first MLS red card for his studs-up challenge on LAFC's Diego Rossi.
Not that the former Manchester United and England star could have any complaints in what finished a 4-0 defeat in a match between teams who entered the weekend their respective conference leaders.
It was just Rooney's seventh sending off in his expansive first-team club and international career, with two of those coming while on duty with the England national team. An occasion rare enough to be a surprise, but frequent enough to perhaps recognize in the moment.
"Yeah I think it was a red card," Rooney conceded afterward. "I’ve lunged. I tried to win the ball, and I’ve caught the player. I have no arguments."
Referee Robert Sibiga originally issued only a caution for the offense. But after a brief Video Review, he came back and issued a red.
Rooney appeared to accept the decision, shook Rossi's hand and jogged toward the team tunnel.
"It was nothing malicious," Rooney insisted. "I didn’t mean to get the guy or hurt him. But obviously I caught him. I was expecting it really when the referee give me the yellow. So I think it was the right call."
The Audi Field crowd booed at first, then appeared to halt after the offense was shown on the stadium's videoboard.
United's other star attacker, Luciano Acosta, was subbed off in the 73rd minute and appeared to share some words with head coach Ben Olsen while walking off.
Olsen likely made the move with an eye toward Tuesday, when D.C. host the Montreal Impact (8 pm ET | TVAS, MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in the US). After losing starting right back Joseph Mora to a broken jaw suffered last Sunday in Orlando, Rooney will also miss the encounter while serving a red card suspension.
"I told everyone last week," Olsen remarked. "'Things are going our way. We have the same team every weekend. And here comes an injury and here comes a suspension. This is the MLS season.' So buckle up."
If anything, D.C. improved after going down to 10 men, though by then it was far too late to earn anything against the league's most impressive side early this season.
"I think the disappointing thing for us, especially first half, was we just weren’t at it," Rooney said. "For whatever reason that is, I don’t know. We weren’t aggressive enough. The tempo in our play wasn’t good enough. We weren’t clever in terms of how we wanted to play. So we got what we deserved first half."