New D.C. United boss Wayne Rooney is demanding big improvements after returning to the club where he starred as a player, with the black-and-red desperate for a result ahead of their clash with Columbus Crew.
D.C. sit 13th in the Eastern Conference after being thrashed 7-0 by Philadelphia Union last time out, and are nine points adrift of the playoffs after losing three of their last four league games.
While Rooney will not be in the dugout for the visit of Columbus, with his move dependent on receiving his Visa, the Manchester United legend will be watching intently as the team look to snap their poor run.
“To come back to the MLS, to D.C. United, was a really exciting challenge for me,” Rooney said. “The team need to improve, I think that’s obvious for everyone to see.
“I really believe that with my capabilities of developing players, young players, and of course, we’re working hard to get a couple of players in, we can get this club back to successful ways.
“It’s going to take a lot of hard work, but that’s what I’m here to do. I believe they’re underperforming. I believe there’s a lot more for the players to give, the organization has to be right.”
Columbus, meanwhile, moved to within one point of a playoff berth with a 3-2 win over the Chicago Fire last time out.
Crew boss Caeb Porter introduced debutant Cucho Hernandez to great effect in that contest, with the former Watford man netting a dramatic winner, and was delighted with the Colombian’s impact.
“I always call subs solutions,” Porter said. “They’re solutions to a problem, whether you’re down a goal, up a goal, or whatever you need.
“And I thought the solutions made all the difference in the world. We’re down 2-0 when Cucho came in the game, immediately you could feel the energy and confidence in the group.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
D.C. United – Ola Kamara
While Taxi Fountas leads D.C.’s scoring charts with nine MLS goals this term, the Norwegian’s six strikes make him the hosts’ second-most prolific player, and he will be desperate to make an impact with the new boss watching on.
Columbus Crew – Cucho Hernandez
Hernandez scored the winning goal for Columbus off the bench on his MLS debut, becoming just the second Crew player to score on his MLS debut in the last five seasons after Lucas Zelarayan in 2020, and could threaten the hosts’ out-of-shape back line.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Columbus have won three of their last four matches against D.C. United (L1), including a 3-0 victory on April 30. The Crew have scored 11 goals in those four matches, after netting just one goal in the previous four regular season meetings with D.C.
– D.C. United’s 7-0 defeat to the Union on Friday equaled the largest margin of defeat in MLS history (5th time). It was the first time D.C. conceded seven goals in a match in the club’s MLS history.
– The Crew extended their unbeaten run to six games (W3 D3) on Saturday, coming from 2-0 down to beat the Fire 3-2. The victory was the Crew’s first in a match in which they trailed by two goals since a 3-2 win at the Union in October 2014.
– D.C.’s 7-0 defeat to the Union marked the fourth time in the last five matches they have allowed at least three goals.
– The 18 goals United have conceded in that time are the most the club has ever allowed in a five-match span in the club’s MLS history.