D.C. United’s 2019 season came to an end in Round One of the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs on Saturday, October 19 at BMO Field in Toronto. After conceding in the 32nd minute, the Black-and-Red fought back with Lucas Rodríguez bagging a stoppage time equalizer. Despite equalizing late in the game, D.C. United were unable to thwart the Toronto offense and after going down 2-1 in extra time, the Black-and-Red had to put numbers forward in search of an equalizer. With all eyes on leveling the score, the D.C. United defense was left vulnerable on the counterattack and the result ultimately ended 5-1 to the home team.
Despite the loss against Toronto in playoff action, the Black-and-Red have plenty to be happy about after achieving playoff berth for the second consecutive season. The team had one of the most stout defenses in the league after achieving 14 clean sheets and allowing only 38 goals in MLS Regular Season play. Frédéric Brillant and Steven Birnbaum were stalwarts in the backline with both center backs appearing in every regular season match for the Black-and-Red. The pair were a dominating force and led the league in aerial duels won and headed clearances. Bill Hamid registered a career season for the Black-and-Red and his 14 clean sheets broke the single-season record for the Black-and-Red. A record held by former United goalkeeper Nick Rimando in 2005; the veteran goalkeeper will retire at the conclusion of the 2019 season.
2019 saw the addition of key players to the roster including the likes of Lucas Rodriguez, Felipe Martins and Ola Kamara. Rodriguez stormed onto the MLS scene and impressed fans and pundits in his first year for the Black-and-Red. The 22-year-old midfielder scored six goals and recorded three assists in 33 appearances during the regular season with his volleyed effort against Real Salt Lake on March 16 earning him an MLS Goal of the Week nomination. Felipe proved to be an invaluable pickup for the Black-and-Red in the summer transfer window. The Brazilian holding midfielder was pivotal to United’s success down the final stretch and he was instrumental to the defense that closed the regular season with five consecutive shutouts. On the opposite end of the field, Ola Kamara joined D.C. United from Chinese side Shenzhen F.C. and the Black-and-Red immediately saw the potential of the experienced Norwegian forward. Kamara started his goalscoring account in fine fashion when he whipped a curling effort into the top corner against the New York Red Bulls on August 21 to give fans a taste of what’s to come in 2020.
D.C. United captain Wayne Rooney gave fans plenty of moments of brilliance in his final season in MLS as the English soccer icon heads back to the UK to begin his role as a player-coach for Derby County in the Championship. The Englishman was the Black-and-Red’s leading goalscorer and goal creator in 2019 with 11 goals and eight assists. Some notable moments for Rooney included his game-winning goal from beyond midfield against Orlando City on June 26 and his hat trick against Real Salt Lake in the 5-0 win on March 16; both moments came at Audi Field. With Rooney departing the nation’s capital, fans can look back fondly at some of the incredible moments that characterized his time in the United States.
As all eyes shift to the 2020 season, D.C. United fans can be optimistic about the capabilities of this team next year. With a solid core of personnel returning, the Black-and-Red will head into the offseason with the goal of continuing their upward trajectory in 2020.