Before Sunday night, Luciano Acosta had never tallied more than one goal in a game with D.C. United. On Sunday night, the 5-foot-3 forward’s first career hat trick led the Black-and-Red to a 3-2 victory over Orlando City SC at Audi Field in front of 17,020 fans.
Acosta capped the hat trick with a stunning header to win the game after a crucial hustle play from United captain Wayne Rooney.
Following the goal, Acosta jumped into the roaring supporters section to celebrate the well-earned three points and the club’s first hat trick since Patrick Mullins scored four on September 23, 2017 against the San Jose Earthquakes.
The first half of the match saw few scoring chances for either side and United struggled to secure the final touch around goal. A 44th-minute header from Rooney that found the back of the net was disallowed when Yamil Asad, who directed a headed pass to the Englishman, was ruled offsides by video review.
In the fourth minute of the first stoppage time, Acosta received a touch pass from Rooney and navigated through the Orlando City defense. Positioned at the right side of the six-foot box, the dynamic forward’s shot flew past Orlando goalkeeper Joe Bendik. The strike just before halftime was the 10th time Acosta has found the back of the net in his MLS career.
Just after play resumed for the second half, Orlando City equalized with an own goal that deflected off of the heel of United goalkeeper David Ousted to make it 1-1.
A red card shown to Orlando’s Cristian Higuita in the 55th minute forced Orlando City to play the final 35 minutes with 10 players. The red card was the result of a forearm from Higuita that sent Asad to the Audi Field turf.
Nine minutes later, in the 64th minute, United capitalized on their one-man advantage. Acosta timed his run towards goal as Asad directed a cross to his fellow Argentinian. The crossing attempt found the foot of the leaping Acosta who converted the volley opportunity. After initially being ruled offsides, the goal was returned by video review.
D.C.’s advantage was short-lived as Orlando City equalized once again when Dom Dwyer broke free from the Black-and-Red’s defense and converted his one-on-one opportunity against Ousted, chipping the shot into the back of the net.
The score remained tied and it looked as if United would have to settle for a draw as the last few minutes of stoppage time wound down.
Then, magic happened.
On a corner kick in the fifth minute of stoppage time, head coach Ben Olsen sent Ousted forward as another attacking option in the box. When the corner kick was deflected out of the box, it looked as if Orlando City was going to have a wide-open opportunity for a long-range shot on the vacant goal. But the hustle of Rooney, who sprinted back and made a game-saving tackle, regained possession and negated that chance.
Rooney quickly got to his feet, gained possession and hustled the ball up the sideline. As he sprinted up field, he saw Acosta sprinting on the opposite flank towards goal. Rooney then fired a long cross and found the head of Acosta, who sent the Audi Field faithful into a frenzy with his headed goal.
The Black-and-Red return to action at Audi Field with a matchup against the Portland Timbers on Wednesday, Sept. 15 at PM ET as they look to carry over the momentum of the thrilling victory and build a winning streak in front of their beloved home fans.