On Saturday, D.C. United traveled to Colorado looking for answers. After a draw during the week and a loss the weekend prior, the Black-and-Red knew they needed to get back on track and earn three points.
The defense has been stellar for most of the season. But with injuries on the backline, players were asked to shift their roles and new players were asked to step up. One of those players was Donovan Pines, who made his MLS debut in the match against the Rapids.
Pines looked strong in his debut. He played in the central defense in a 5-4-1 formation, between Steven Birnbaum and Jalen Robinson. Despite his youth, Pines looked comfortable with the ball at his feet and successfully faced Kei Kamara, one of the best strikers in the league.
“It’s a tough game to have your first against Kei [Kamara] and against that much action in the second half,” Head Coach Ben Olsen said after the match. “I thought [Donovan] held up very well for his first game. He didn’t do a lot wrong, to be honest with you.”
For Pines, the match was an opportunity to get on Olsen’s radar. It was also a great moment for the Maryland native, who took pride in wearing the Black-and-Red jersey.
“Honestly, I was just ecstatic through the whole experience,” Pines said. “I honestly couldn’t believe I was playing for my hometown team. I thought, ‘Wow, that’s pretty surreal.’ So, when I got on the pitch, I’m like alright, I’m going to fight as much as I can to get a point for my first MLS game. I did and I’m really, really happy I did that.
Pines not only made his MLS debut in the game, but he also collected his first assist in the 35th minute. D.C. United were awarded a corner kick and Pines used his size and athletism to redirect the ball to a waiting Luciano Acosta who then buried his second goal of the season and earned Pines his first MLS assist.
“I just wanted to play simple and do the best I can, just show my quality on the ball. Staying calm and composed on the ball and focus on what makes me a good player and what makes me who I am.”
This may have been Pines first MLS chance, but it won’t be his last. D.C. United will return to the District on Sunday to face NYCFC at Audi Field. The match kicks off at 4:00 PM ET.