Troubles at DC United’s Yankee Stadium continue with loss to New York City FC


NEW YORK – Yankee Stadium is an unconventional place to play football. The dimensions are tight and the sight lines cause dizziness. Discolored grass covers the baseball’s infield, making it appear as if watermarks have been placed over a large portion of the field.

In the days leading up to DC United’s 3-2 loss to New York City FC on Saturday night, coach Wayne Rooney considered changing the training pitch diagonally to replicate the odd Bronx line-up.

The start was as miserable as ever at the famous stadium for United (1-2-1) who conceded two goals in the first half and threatened another one-sided defeat. The visitors adapted, halving the deficit with Christian Benteke’s goal less than a minute into the second half and later closing in on a goal with Steven Birnbaum’s header.

But “the first half wasn’t nearly good enough,” Rooney said. “And I do not know why. You have games where you can’t understand why the performance was so bad. I could have taken any player out to be honest. I was happy with the reaction in the second half, but the first half cost us the game.”

United’s winning streak swelled to eight (with a goal advantage of 24-7) at the makeshift venue. DC’s only away win in the series ever came last season at New Jersey’s Red Bull Arena, one of NYC’s alternate venues when Yankee Stadium is unavailable.

Based in the Bronx since joining the MLS in 2015, NYCFC (2-1-1) have finally received approval to build their own stadium: it will be in Queens near Citi Field and open as early as 2027 .

United – and certainly every other team in MLS – can’t wait.

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On Saturday, the hosts took the lead in the 17th minute, despite needing a video review to confirm the goal.

A through ball from Keaton Parks connected Braian Cufré in no time. A low cross caught Talles Magno, who came to the five-yard finish behind central defender Derrick Williams. The offside flag went up.

However, after checking, referee Mark Alllatin saw that Nigel had kept Robertha Magno on the side and allowed the goal.

Twenty minutes later, Williams and left-back Mohanad Jeahze were caught in upfield. Just before William’s tough challenge, Gabriel Pereira freed Santiago Rodríguez for a breakaway and a clean finish past goalkeeper Tyler Miller.

In the dressing room at halftime, Rooney blasted his team.

“I don’t think I can do that [share] the language I used,” he said, grinning.

“It was necessary,” Williams said. “He screamed and got the reaction he needed.”

Rooney made three substitutions. The moves, combined with renewed vigor, paid off in 33 seconds. Mateusz Klich crossed from the left wing to Benteke, whose header from eight meters shot keeper Luis Barraza into the far post.

United kept the pressure on and in the 70th minute Barraza produced a sensational response, saving Ted Ku-DiPietro’s side volley from close range.

This was unlike the previous two visits when United were buried 4-1, 6-0. However, NYC extended their lead when Rodríguez set up substitute Thiago Andrade with a one-touch finish past Miller in the 88th minute.

“There’s still hope at 2-1,” said Benteke. “And you feel like you’re going to score one goal and then you concede the third. The third was a murderer.”

Birnbaum responded with a header from Klich’s corner kick in the 90th minute and with nine minutes of stoppage time (and then three more) United had hope. Birnbaum jabbed another menacing header but it went wide.

“The second half,” Rooney said, “was a lot better than the mess we made in the first half.”

Here’s what else you should know about United’s defeat:

Rooney made a change to his starting line-up, dropping midfielder Pedro Santos after three consecutive starts and reinstating Robertha, a forward who was sidelined by illness last weekend.

In his second consecutive start, Ku-DiPietro hooked Robertha up on Benteke’s crosses.

Homegrown defender Jacob Greene, a third-year pro from Crofton, made his MLS regular-season debut, replacing Brazilian right-back Ruan at half-time. Greene was a full-time starter at second division club Loudoun United last year.

Santos and midfielder Victor Palsson also joined early in the second half. Defender Matai Akinmboni, 16, replaced the injured Jeahze in the 60th minute. Santos was also injured and left in the 78th lap.

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Palsson and forward Kristian Fletcher have been called up for international duty and will miss next Saturday’s home game against the New England Revolution.

Palsson will join the Iceland national team for the Euro 2024 qualifiers in Bosnia and Liechtenstein. Fletcher, a 17-year-old homegrown in his first full season, will report to the US Under-19 team for the Buenos Aires training camp and friendlies against Argentina and Racing Club.

Most top division leagues are pausing for FIFA’s internationals windows to avoid player losses. MLS often doesn’t do this, so next week dozens of players will miss league games.

MLS is on hiatus for the October and November FIFA windows and the schedule is more relaxed than usual during the June and September windows.

Midfielder Lewis O’Brien, on loan from Premier League club Nottingham Forest but ineligible to play pending a work visa, was present to get a feel for the MLS matchday experience. United are hoping he will make his debut in a couple of weeks.

Andy Najar (hamstring), Taxi Fountas (hamstring) and Brendan Hines-Ike (foot) are a few weeks away from returning from injury. Troubles at DC United’s Yankee Stadium continue with loss to New York City FC

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