Wayne Rooney demands more from DC United after FC Cincinnati rout | MLSSoccer.com

Wayne Rooney demands more from DC United after FC Cincinnati rout | MLSSoccer.com

Most head coaches would presumably be thrilled if their team handily beat Supporters’ Shield-leading FC Cincinnati by a lopsided scoreline. Not D.C. United boss Wayne Rooney.

The Black-and-Red manager flat-out said he was “angry” following Saturday’s 3-0 win over MLS’s best club to date in the 2023 season.

The reason?

“Because we didn’t do what I asked them [the players]” after a dominant first half at Audi Field that saw the home side practically put the game away in the opening 45 minutes thanks to goals from Pedro Santos (10’), Derrick Williams (17’) and Cristian Dájome (43’).

“I think we got complacent. I’ve talked to players all the time about focus and concentration,” the Manchester United and English national team legend added.

For Rooney, it’s the latter factor that separates United – ninth in the Eastern Conference table with a 7W-8L-5D record – from the league’s top clubs.

“Our focus, concentration has to be there, and it was. As I said, it was in the first half. And I really believe if we have that focus [for entire games], we can beat any team in the league,” stated the 37-year-old, who will manage the MLS All-Stars against Premier League giants Arsenal FC on July 19.

“If we don’t, then we start playing as individuals and not as a team, and we won’t do so. We need to improve that.”

Cincy setback

At least for 45 minutes, D.C. United did just that to snap a two-game losing streak against a dangerous Cincy side who suffered only their second loss of the season, and their first of 2023 against Eastern Conference opposition.

“We were bound to lose games,” head coach Pat Noonan said after Matchday 21’s disappointing outing in which the Orange & Blue missed several key starters: Brandon Vazquez and Matt Miazga (both with the United States at the Concacaf Gold Cup) as well as Yerson Mosquera and Junior Moreno.

“East, West. You know, the goal all along was to continue to find ways to stay at the top and to do that you’re going to have to beat teams in and out of conference, and obviously we’re going to have a lot more matchups in conference.”

Noonan also lauded D.C. striker Christian Benteke, who once again commanded United’s attack with his physical prowess up top and assisted on Dájome’s goal just before the break.

“You could be strong for 85% of the game against that guy, but he has the ability to find the moments to bring the ball down,” Noonan said of the veteran Belgian international.

“You saw the flick on the third, where we can do better, but he’s just a real presence in the direct play that allows either runs in behind.”

Final: #allforcincy blanked at Audi Field, 3-0.

They drop to 13-2-4, cede a little ground in the Shield race. Missing five starters but disappointing after the club overcame six absences on Wednesday vs. TFC. A lot to digest here. Headed to the locker room to try to sort it out.

— Pat Brennan (@PBrennanENQ) June 25, 2023

Building forward

Rooney, for his part, saved the most praise for Pedro Santos and Dájome, who both made the most of their inclusion in the starting XI to get on the scoresheet.

The Colombian, in particular, could see his minutes increase as a result of his performance.

“I thought he was brilliant and deserved to play,” Rooney said of the early-season acquisition from the Vancouver Whitecaps, hinting he could make his third straight start when United visit Nashville SC next Saturday (8:30 pm ET | Apple TV – Free).

“He gives me something to think about obviously for the next game.”

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