Luciano Acosta showcased his magic once again as DC United comprehensively defeated reigning MLS Cup champions Atlanta United to open the new Major League Soccer season.
Atlanta United headed into the match at Audi Field as heavy favourites, considering their league title winning status, but Luciano Acosta pulled the strings in the final third and inspired his side to an improbable victory.
DC United have title ambitions of their own, after being knocked out of the MLS Cup by Columbus Crew in the preliminary round last term. Ben Olsen is heading into his ninth campaign as manager of DC United, after representing the Black-and-Red as a player during their most successful period.
The club from the American capital will be hoping to restore glorious times in the new campaign and they have every chance of achieving this with both Luciano Acosta and Wayne Rooney spearheading the attack.
One of the main issues last season was their defensive deficiencies, but the arrival of Wayne Rooney in June 2018 sparked a remarkable resurgence. DC United leaked an alarming 34 goals over the course of their opening 17 league fixtures, but miraculously recovered to concede just 16 goals in their final 17 league matches.
Olsen has overseen a significant improvement over the previous six months and DC United will be hoping to consolidate their strong end to the previous campaign with a strong start to the current season.
Why Acosta Could Decide their Fate this Season?
Although Rooney’s arrival created renewed optimism amongst supporters, the importance of Luciano Acosta must not be underestimated. Rooney may provide necessary experience and quality, but Acosta supplies a much-needed injection of energy and adventurism, which transmits onto the pitch and creates a level of unpredictability in their attacking play.
His importance to the team was illustrated beautifully during their 2-0 win against Atlanta United on Sunday evening. The Argentinian midfielder continuously dropped into unoccupied gaps between the opposing defence and midfield and instigated numerous counter-attacks with his extraordinary vision and exceptional passing range.
Acosta, as he always does, provided at the decisive moments, assisting Paul Arriola for the opening goal on the cusp of half-time and confirming the victory with a swerving long range strike that deceived former Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
The interest from French giants Paris Saint-Germain was a testament to his ability. Acosta was expected to seal a deal in the French capital during the January transfer window, but fortunately for DC supporters, the transfer fell through on deadline day.
Therefore, DC United will be treated to his magic for yet another campaign, and if he is to leave at the end of the season, hopefully he would’ve made history before going onto pastures new.
The Prolific Duo: Acosta & Rooney
Luciano Acosta and Wayne Rooney formed a telepathic partnership during the 2018 season and their partnership is expected to go from strength to strength in the new campaign.
DC United finished the 2018 season with 62 goals from their Eastern Conference and MLS Cup fixtures respectively. Luciano Acosta was directly involved in nearly 44% of those goals – scoring 10 and making 17 assists, the latter being the second-highest in the top-flight.
Wayne Rooney was also directly involved in 19 goals, despite arriving three months into the season, scoring 12 and making 7 assists. His arrival coincided with the significant resurgence of DC United and both players contributed hugely to guide them into the MLS Cup play-offs.
The Black-and-Red had won just three of their opening seventeen league fixtures. But once Rooney acclimatized to his new surroundings in the American capital, DC United amassed 37 points out of a possible 51.
They are likely to be the catalysts as DC United attempt to reaffirm their superiority in Major League Soccer. They won four of the opening nine MLS Cup finals, but have failed to even reach the final since their last triumph in 2004.
Supporters will be hoping that the current generation can match their predecessors by ending an agonising 15-year wait for national supremacy. And if anyone holds the key – the partnership of Rooney and Acosta could be the secret potion to restoring glorious times in Washington…