After entering the match five points behind the Montreal Impact for the right to a playoff spot, United won 5-0 and came away with three crucial points in their pursuit for a postseason berth in front of a record crowd of 20,573 at Audi Field on Saturday night.
Wayne Rooney, Luciano Acosta and Paul Arriola led the lethal attack to five goals, four of which came in the second half, while Bill Hamid and the defenders blanked Montreal for the club’s third shutout of the season. The tandem of Rooney and Acosta combined for two goals and four assists as the Black-and-Red improved to 4-0-0 when the pair combines for a score.
Acosta got the party started in the 17th minute, when he drove toward the 18-yard box and got the ball to Yamil Asad. The two Argentinians connected for a goal for the sixth time this season when Asad completed the give and go with Acosta, whose shot to the far post ricocheted into the back of the net.
After United’s early score, Montreal generated scoring chances around the net. Hamid dove to make a difficult save on a close-in shot from Bacary Sagna in the 21st minute to prevent an equalizer.
The four set pieces from the corner for the Impact also created some angst for the Black-and-Red faithful. In the 27th minute Hamid leapt to punch an opportunity away and in the 32nd minute a wall of United defenders blocked away the second chance.
Just after play resumed in the second half, Asad took possession on the attacking half of the field and led Acosta down the touchline with a pass. Acosta looked up and saw his favorite target sprinting towards the 18-yard box. Rooney accepted the pass, cut to the center and struck a shot to the top-left of the goal to give the home team a decisive 2-0 advantage.
United added to their lead in the 61st minute on a well-executed counter attack. This time it was Rooney leading Acosta into the box with a pass. As he approached the goal, Acosta flicked a pass across to Arriola who scored an easy goal in the wide-open net.
The scoring kept coming for the Black-and-Red in the 78th minute and Acosta served as the catalyst for the third time on the night. With the Impact’s focus placed squarely on stopping Acosta, Arriola hedged off the backline to stay onside and took the pass from his fellow forward. Arriola chipped the shot over Bush, who left his line to challenge the play to his left.
The three assist night from Acosta propels him to first in the league in assists with 16.
Rooney put the exclamation point on the key victory with an 82nd-minute goal. Bush sprinted well of his line to clear away a pass from Acosta and prevent Arriola’s one-on-one chance. His clear, however, flew right to the waiting foot of Rooney who launched the shot into the vacant goal to give United their highest scoring game since August 2016 when they scored six times against Chicago.
With the victory, the Black-and-Red continue to close the gap towards earning the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Now just two points behind the playoff line with five matches remaining, United will have a week to recover before hosting Chicago for a matinee matchup next Sunday.