On a cold, rainy night in the District, D.C. United started their 2019 season on the right foot, cruising to a 2-0 victory over the reigning MLS Cup champions, Atlanta United.
The Black-and-Red started the match on the front foot, generating a number of concrete chances during the match's opening period. As The Five Stripes started to find their way into the match, Bill Hamid came up big, smothering several chances before Atlanta could muster a shot on goal. The match stayed scoreless until stoppage time of the first half, where United finally broke through.
Paul Arriola buried D.C. United’s first goal of the season in the first minute of first half stoppage time. Wayne Rooney whipped a corner kick into the box, finding Luciano Acosta, who set up an un-marked Arriola at the near post. Arriola, who found the back of the net seven times in 2018, smashed the ball past Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan, sending the Black-and-Red into the locker room moments later with the lead and the momentum.
Luciano Acosta added to the Black-and-Red’s goal tally in the 58th minute. Acosta took a speculative shot from outside of the 18-yard box and an error from Guzan allowed the ball to swerve into the goal, doubling United's advantage. Though they did not score a third, the Black-and-Red continued to create chances for the rest of the match.
Atlanta United kept the pressure on D.C. United until the final moments of the match, but Bill Hamid and the defense were able to shut down any attacking moves. Following up on his commanding performance in the first half, Hamid registered two key saves in the second half, earning Man of the Match honors. Midfielders Júnior Moreno and Russell Canouse intercepted a number of Atlanta passes, shoring up a backline which only faced nine total shots during the match.
Even with a steady rain and temperatures close to freezing, a crowd of over 16,000 helped cheer on the Black-and-Red to a victory in the first match of their 2019 campaign. United's next match will be on the road against New York City FC on Sunday, March 10th. Kickoff is set for 3:00 PM ET and can be seen on FloFC.