D.C. United’s five-match unbeaten streak was snapped at the hands of the New York Red Bulls on Sunday, leaving members of the team frustrated, but with some positives to take from a successful stretch of matches.
Wayne Rooney, in particular, was disappointed with referee David Gantar’s decision leading up to the game’s lone goal. Gantar awarded a free kick ahead of Kaku’s goal after Michael Amir Murillo went down after committing a foul.
“I think all I’d like to say is, the referee told me, just before they scored that is wasn’t a free kick,” Rooney said, “but he needs the time to see the guys so that’s why he gave the free kick, which is extremely disappointing in a game of this, in a derby game, to give a free kick when he admitted it wasn’t a free kick. It’s not acceptable.”
That being said, Rooney noted that the team’s performance at Red Bull Arena, and over the last several weeks, had been stellar, and he felt D.C. played well enough to earn a positive result on Sunday.
“We kept them quiet for a little bit,” Rooney said. “We created some good chances, didn’t take them.”
The visitors only managed two shots on target out of their total of 14 on a night that their opponents also lacked quality in the final third.
The match was also an improvement, at least at the beginning. on the teams’ last meet-up a month ago, when the Red Bulls once again recorded a 1-0 victory, that time at Audi Field.
“Last time we played them, I think we were caught a bit by surprise about how serious their style of play is,” midfielder Paul Arriola said. “This game I thought we came in really prepared, we were in the front early on.”
It was that second half where the game became a bit out of reach for the visitors, according to D.C. head coach Ben Olsen. “I think they have the better of it in the second half. But that’s what they do,” he said. “They kind of wear you down. It was a good exercise in trying to stay at a really high
level when it comes to focus and intensity.”
“They make you adapt to them, so you come in and you have to be physical and you have to be super focused because they are coming right down your throat and they are going to come right down your throat again and they are going to wear you down and wear you down,” the coach added. “You have to sustain that. You have to sustain that focus and physicality, and that’s how they continue to get wins, and they have got some play makers.”
Ultimately, any positives D.C. United was able to take away from Sunday’s loss were overshadowed by the missed opportunities that cost the team a chance at a point or three.
“Tough place to play, obviously, against a tough team,” Arriola said, “But for us, it’s tough, it’s tough, I think obviously, we should have put at least one away and if you put one away, even early on in the first half or early on in the second half, who knows how the game goes.”
However, with a quick turnaround and a strong stretch of performances, D.C. still remain in good spirits about the current direction of the team.
“All I can say is obviously we’re confident in what we’re doing,” Arriola said.