The stage is set for the second clash between D.C. United and Charlotte FC.
The Black-and-Red pay their first visit to the expansion club after handing them a 3-0 loss to open the season in February. There have been many changes for D.C. and Charlotte since that first meeting—chief among them, their head coaches.
Charlotte handed the clipboard to interim head coach Christian Lattanzio in June after parting ways with Miguel Ángel Ramírez. And on July 12, D.C. United announced that England and Manchester United top-scorer, Wayne Rooney would take over as Head Coach.
The momentum is with D.C. following a thrilling 2-1 stoppage time comeback over Orlando City SC on Sunday. It was a defiant start to Wayne Rooney’s tenure as Head Coach—one that he hopes will help shape the team’s identity and spark a much-needed run in the second half of the season.
“Character,” he said after the match, “is a big word I’ve used over the last couple of weeks with the team. “We need to be a team that shows a lot of character, fight, and togetherness.”
They’ll have a chance to do so again come 7 p.m. on Saturday. Watch the match live on NBC Sports Washington, TeleXitos (ES), dcunited.com and ESPN+, with pre-match coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Last Time Out
The Black-and-Red ushered in the Rooney era in dramatic fashion on Sunday.
After a slow start saw them go down five minutes into the match, D.C. continued to trail until the dying moments of the match. In the 88th minute, Wayne Rooney made what proved to be a pivotal substitution, bringing on striker Kimarni Smith.
Stoppage time struck, and a minute later, Smith found Ola Kamara who squared it to Chris Durkin—1-1. A point would’ve been more than enough given how the previous 90 minutes had played out, but neither the players nor the crowd let up.
With the four minutes of stoppage time up, there was barely time for one last attack. The ball again fell to the feet of Kimarni Smith and with a picture-perfect volley across the box, the final chance of the match came to none other than D.C. United’s All-Star midfielder Taxi Fountas—2-1, D.C. take all three points.
It was only right that Wayne Rooney’s first test as Head Coach would come against Orlando City SC, an opponent he seemed to produce unforgettable moments against every time they crossed paths during his time as a D.C. United player.
Rooney wasn’t the only debutant, however. Midfielder Ravel Morrison, who signed with the club on July 21 after spending the 2021 season under Wayne Rooney in Derby County, made his first appearance in Black-and-Red and left the supporters eager to see more.
It was quite a start, but Rooney emphasized that it was only the start in his post-match press conference.
It’s been a strange couple of outings for Chalotte FC. Last Saturday, they fell behind in the 5th minute when a botched clearance from Julian Araujo deflected off of Toronto FC’s Jonathan Osorio and into the back of the net.
It was downhill from there as Toronto made it 4-0 before half and their captain Christian Fuchs saw red in the 65th minute.
Their hopes of bouncing back at home against Columbus were stifled by four hours of lightning delay, which ultimately saw the match postponed after 16 minutes of scoreless play. The one positive for them, however, is that they’ll get their veteran centerhalf back for Wednesday's match.
With the playoff line still in sight, Charlotte (8-2-12, W-D-L) will hope to get back on track in front of their home crowd on Saturday.
Former D.C. United striker Yordy Reyna is one to watch in this match up, along with his other two partners up top, Karol Swiderski and Andre Bava Shinyashiki. Swiderski and Shinyashiki lead the team in goals scored (5).
But everyone can and has played a part in Charlotte’s successes this season. So far, 12 different players have opened their accounts in 2022—something D.C. United will have noted as they try to clean up their defense and climb the table.
Next Home Match
D.C. United take on arch rivals New York Red Bulls at Audi Field, Saturday, August 6 at 7:30 p.m. ET. It’s guaranteed to be a show, with D.C. looking to avenge a loss in the first tie between the two.