With Wayne Rooney coming off a two-match suspension and Luciano Acosta mostly used mostly as a bench player of late, both D.C. United attackers will be in the starting XI for Wednesday's friendly against Puebla, manager Ben Olsen told The Washington Post.
The Black-and-Red don't play again in the regular season until Sept. 14, after the current international window concludes. That leaves Rooney and Acosta both in need of minutes to maintain their fitness after relatively inactive periods. It also means Olsen could field closer to a first XI around them than in previous friendlies this season, a 5-2 loss to Real Betis and an 8-1 shellacking against Olympique Marseille.
“A little bit of a puzzle, but it will probably be the best team we put forward for one of these friendlies because of the circumstances,” Olsen told The Post's Steven Goff. “We need the training session for some guys — meaning 30 minutes or 45 — and some guys need to get pushed and get real game time. There will be some 90-minute performances.”
Rooney has only played 98 minutes in D.C.'s last five MLS games, and none since he was dismissed in the 24th minute of a 2-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls on Aug. 21. He was eventually suspended an additional match for throwing a forearm into the head and neck area of Cristian Casseres Jr. The Designated Player still leads D.C. with 11 goals.
Acosta has been primarily a sub in the same five-match stretch, though he did go the full 90 minutes while scoring D.C.'s only goal in a 3-1 loss at the Philadelphia Union on Aug. 24. The Argentine has six goals and two assists, lagging well behind in production from his breakout 2018 season. Acosta had 10 goals and 17 assists a season ago, sparking widespread European interest.