Late goals lift D.C. United to victory in Rooney's coaching debut
Washington, Aug 1, 2022 (AFP) - Chris Durkin and Taxiarchis Fountas scored in second-half stoppage time as DC United edged Orlando City 2-1 in a thriller in Wayne Rooney's Major League Soccer coaching debut on Sunday.
The late rally snapped United's four-match winless run, which included three games since former England and Manchester United star Rooney was named the club's new manager.
Rooney's MLS sideline debut was delayed as he awaited his work visa, although since his appointment on July 12 he had worked closely with the front office on shaping the roster before the MLS transfer and trade deadline on August 4.
Fountas sealed the victory with his 11th goal of the season, a left-footed volley of a cross from Kimarni Smith in the fifth minute of stoppage time.
Durkin had grabbed the equalizer three minutes earlier, firing home from the center of the box from Ola Kamara's cross.
Junior Urso had opened the scoring in the ninth minute, his third goal of the season for Orlando, who lost their second straight game but remained fifth in the Eastern Conference.
Fountas had come close to equalizing in the 61st minute, but his close-range volley was stopped by Orlando keeper Pedro Gallese.
Rooney insisted he never lost confidence that his team could turn the match around.
"I believed we'd win the game, but the one thing we had to do was up the tempo," Rooney said when asked what his halftime message to the team was after a drab first 45 minutes.
"I asked the team at halftime to be more positive. To put the work in. It's a big difference, more possession-based, using the goalkeeper for all the workings, getting in dangerous positions. I thought the second half was excellent."
In addition to marking Rooney's official debut as coach, Ravel Morrison, the Jamaica midfielder who played for Rooney at Derby County, started for his new team.
New goalkeeper Carlos Ochoa, brought in last week from Real Salt Lake, remains in the wings, however, with Rafael Romo getting the start. That could change when United head to Charlotte on Wednesday.
United's victory was their first since May. They are last in the Eastern Conference, eight points out of the MLS Cup playoff places.
"This season has to start now," Rooney said. "We have to be better. We're starting to see signs of what a good team (we) can be."