Early gaffe proves costly as DC United woes continue against Montreal




Wayne Rooney had just settled into a suite-level seat on Saturday night – his standard perch until he was given a work visa that will allow him to start coaching DC United – when misery struck before that. a minute has passed at Audi Field.

Central defender Donovan Pines failed to settle a simple pass. Romell Quioto popped up around goalkeeper Rafael Romo. Pines knocked down the Romo scramble. The CF Montreal forward fired a low shot past the slippery defender.

In this dismal season, United’s troubles covered the canvas for 90 minutes. But on this wet night, the tone was set in 44 seconds. DC showed resilience in the second half, but the 2-1 loss dropped the worst side in MLS to 5-12-3 – with just one win in 11 games since mid-May – and left Rooney facing to a massive undertaking when he officially takes the helm. .

Quioto, a striker for the Honduran national team, scored twice in the first half, taking advantage of a faltering defense in both cases. The first was comical, the second a display of raw superiority.

United created good chances – captain Steven Birnbaum scored early in the second half – but the lack of quality was glaring.

“It will come for us,” said midfielder Jackson Hopkins. “We’re adding more and more quality, and that’s going to give us the boost we need to get wins.”

Help began to arrive. Forward Miguel Berry, acquired in a trade with Columbus last week, was part of the starting line-up, and Chilean winger Martín Rodríguez made his second-half debut after receiving his work visa a few days ago .

Rooney’s first foreign signing, striker Ravel Morrison, was there but, like Rooney, his former Derby County manager, has to wait for a visa. Others were targeted for acquisition before the transfer and trade window closes on August 4.

In all likelihood, Rooney will return to England in a day or two to finalize the paperwork and replace caretaker manager Chad Ashton ahead of next Sunday’s game against visiting Orlando City.

As players come in, “you’ll see it coming together more and more, but obviously it takes time,” Ashton said. “It takes time to learn the system. It takes time to figure out what the little nuances are, but you’ll see rapid growth once you start getting all those pieces in the field together.

Montreal (11-8-2) was quick to take the lead, thanks to a foul from Pines and polish from Quioto.

“Obviously the first shut down is a bit of a mistake, but mistakes are always going to happen, and we need to react a little better and a little faster,” Ashton said.

United were lucky the deficit didn’t widen until the 20th minute: DC fouled one step outside the penalty area, and an offside canceled out Alistair Johnston’s apparent goal.

Quioto doubled the lead in the 35th minute, getting behind Gaossou Samake on Joel Waterman’s long ball and smashing the ball past Romo who was advancing for his ninth goal.

It almost got worse before intermission. DC’s Sofiane Djeffal went straight to Quioto. The gaffe was so sudden that the Montreal player launched a 40-yard shot over Romo parked near the top of the box, but the bid landed high on the net.

United tested goalkeeper James Pantemis several times before breaking through in the 56th minute.

Hopkins, an 18-year-old local player, served a free kick from 35 yards into the heart of the box. Birnbaum made a run near the post and rammed an 11-yard header into the near side for his first goal of the year.

Pantemis made a sterling save on Berry. Taxi Fountas, United’s top scorer, hit the near post from a tight angle. Substitute Kimarni Smith missed by a hair after keeping his balance instead of trying to take a penalty.

“If he stays down,” Ashton said, “it’s probably a reviewable play, so you might get a penalty.”

Chris Odoi-Atsem’s solo flurry was cut short at the last moment deep in the box.

There was ambition and promise but ultimately another setback.

“We’ve shown signs of life,” Berry said, “and that’s a good step forward.”

Here’s what else to know about United’s loss:

The roster choices – and the decisions off the bench – have been filled with surprises. In consultation with Ashton, Rooney created them, partly to reward players for their performances against Bayern Munich in Wednesday’s friendly, but also because he needed to better understand individuals in match situations.

The extent of his assessment before accepting the job was to watch some matches live, some on tape, while he was in England. He also accessed the video of the training sessions.

Saturday marked the third league game – and fourth overall – he has witnessed in person.

Drew Skundrich, a natural midfielder, started at right-back in place of Andy Najar. Samake and midfielder Ted Ku-DiPietro, a local signing who scored against Bayern Munich, made their first league debuts.

Regulars Najar, Brendan Hines-Ike and Ola Kamara were in reserve. Forwards Michael Estrada and Nigel Robertha and defender Tony Alfaro were out of uniform; none of them are injured.

Only three starters were with the team last season: Skundrich, Birnbaum and Pines.

Defensive midfielder Russell Canouse has been excused to be with his wife, Erika, who is expecting their soon-to-be first child. He has made 12 appearances (10 starts) and recently returned from a three-game injury absence.

Fairfax Espinal Signs

Fairfax’s Isaac Espinal, a 16-year-old striker from DC’s youth academy, has signed a professional contract with second division Loudoun United. As an amateur, he made six appearances as a substitute. … At halftime, DC’s Under-16 team was honored for winning the MLS Next Cup title this month in Frisco, Texas.