D.C. United gaffer Wayne Rooney had high expectations for his lads going into the BMO in Toronto on Saturday, but as the post-game press conference proved, Rooney’s disappointment began well before the final whistle.
Something was clearly amiss when Rooney, already down 1-0, made triple sub ahead of half-time, switching Ted Ku-Dipietro, Chris Durkin and Gaoussou Samake for Taxi Fountas, Andy Najar and Pedro Santos.
With a lot more in mind than just the game in hand, Rooney made a gamble against a Toronto team that currently sits 14th on the Eastern Conference table with 16 points. But this early in the season and in a league where a six spot swing can be determined with one game, the Man Utd legend had to make a tough choice in the face of his squad’s lacklustre performance.
“I wish I had 11 [subs to make],” Rooney said post-game. “I had to keep the two [others] in case of injuries. But the first half was nowhere near the standards that we’ve set ourselves.
“…Obviously I could’ve waited ’til halftime, but it was more of a statement to the team that I didn’t like the first half at all. I didn’t feel we showed the fight or the composure or the intensity which I want. So I was very disappointed, certainly, with the first 45 minutes. And I felt it was the right time to make changes.”
Toronto’s Designated Player Lorenzo Insigne put in a commanding performance, providing both assists – first from a corner to Deandre Kerr and then from an incredibly unselfish play to feed Kosi Thompson an easy shot into the back of Tyler Miller’s net.
Read the latest MLS news here
Christian Benteke was able to pull one back for D.C. three minutes ahead of stoppage but did little for the overall ennui that hung over the Black and Red.
“It was more of a statement for the team, I didn’t like the first half at all. I didn’t feel we showed the fight or the composure or the intensity,” Rooney said about the loss that was reminiscent to many of the team’s 2022 bottom of the barrel end.
“Maybe as a team, we were thinking we’re better than what we actually are,” he said. “When you want to be a good team and you want to compete, it’s no good doing it for two, three games – you have to do consistently, and I felt tonight we weren’t at the level which I know we can get to.”