A Wayne Rooney brace and another goal from Luciano Acosta clinched a spot in the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs for D.C. United with a 3-1 win over New York City FC Sunday afternoon in front of a sold out Audi Field.
The win put the Black-and-Red at 50 points on the year, good for 5th place in the Eastern Conference. Head coach Ben Olsen’s club is two points ahead of 6th place Columbus Crew SC and level with the Philadelphia Union.
Rooney opened the scoring early on in the 8th minute, but it was all thanks to the masterful setup play from Acosta. The young Argentine dribbled past two NYC defenders along the goal line before playing a ball back into the middle that Rooney tapped in easily to give United a crucial first goal. It was the seventh time Rooney and Acosta have teamed up for a goal this season.
The Black-and-Red doubled their advantage later in the 24th minute to take a commanding lead against third place NYCFC. Rooney held up play well just outside the box, allowing his teammates to get in on the attack. With his back to goal, a defender tipped Rooney’s layoff effort to a storming Acosta who curled a shot from almost 25 yards into the back of the net.
Goalkeeper Bill Hamid made two saves from close range in the first half to preserve the two goal advantage into halftime. His efforts in net have been crucial in the Black-and-Red’s run of five straight wins.
Acosta’s moment of magic elevated himself into team history on multiple levels. His 10th goal made him the third double-digit goalscorer on the team, joining Rooney (12) and Darren Mattocks (10). It is the first time United has featured three 10-goal scorers since 1998 when Roy Lassiter (18), Jaime Moreno (16) and Marco Etcheverry (10) led United in goals.
With 10 goals and 17 assists, Acosta becomes just the eighth player in team history to reach ten goals and assists, the last being Jaime Moreno in 2008.
Later on in the second half, Ulises Segura’s cross on the edge of the penalty area was handballed in the box by NYC defender Alexander Ring, giving United a penalty kick opportunity. Rooney stepped up to the spot in the 74th minute and buried the chance for his 12th goal of the season.
New York’s David Villa drew one back for the visitors in the 78th minute on a shot from the left that just snuck in off the right post.
United held the 3-1 advantage in the last minutes of the match, and Audi Field exploded with cheers at the final whistle that officially sent the Black-and-Red into the playoffs.
The Black-and-Red wrap up the regular season on the road against the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park on Sunday, Oct. 28, kickoff set for 4:30 PM.