“I don’t care what people think. Myself, the players, the staff, we know what our expectations are. We know what we’re aiming to achieve…We’re really focused on us.”
That was D.C. United head coach Wayne Rooney on Thursday, just two days before the season opener against Toronto.
DCU was the worst team in MLS last year, finishing with just seven wins, six draws and 21 losses. Not only that, it was the eighth worst season by any team in league history.
Saturday was opening day across the league, and D.C. United came into 2023 desperate to turn a new leaf.
Well, good start.
Newcomer Mateusz Klich vaulted United in front in the 13th minute, making an impressive start to his debut for the Black-and-Red.
Toronto equalized in the 66th from the penalty spot and took the lead 17 minutes later on a goal from Mark-Anthony Kaye.
Just when things were looking like the team was picking up where it left off in 2022, D.C. scored the tying goal in the 90th minute on a header by former Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke, who arrived in D.C. this past August.
Eight minutes later, they scored again.
Right at the end of stoppage time, substitute Ted Ku-DiPietro scored the winner, giving D.C. an improbable opening day win on a chilly evening at Audi Field.
“I’m really pleased with the lads,” Rooney said following the emotional victory.
“They put a lot of work in this preseason and they’ve rewarded themselves with 3 points.”
The MLS season is a slog, but they’re off and running. Up next, DCU travels to Columbus to take on the Crew, who were thumped in their opener by last season’s Eastern Conference champion, Philadelphia.