D.C. United blank New York City FC, still get eliminated
Posted on: 08 Oct, 2023 at 01:55 AM
Credit: Mark Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Mateusz Klich scored his fourth and final goal of his first MLS season to lift D.C. United to a 2-0 victory over visiting New York City FC on a night the hosts were officially eliminated from playoff contention.
Chris Durkin added his third goal for D.C. (10-14-10, 40 points), which entered its season finale mathematically alive for the postseason but in need of a victory and help elsewhere.
The Black-and-Red got the former but not the latter. Although they had the chance to end the night in possession of the ninth and final Eastern Conference spot, the schedule guarantees that at least one other club will move above the Black-and-Red by the final day after Montreal's home win against Portland on Saturday.
That means it could be the final match for D.C. manager Wayne Rooney, whose contract expires at season's end and has yet to ink an extension.
Alex Bono made five saves to keep his fifth clean sheet and an 11th for United, which closed their season without its leading scorer Christian Benteke because of an illness.
D.C. snapped a six-match winless run and halted a six-match unbeaten run for NYCFC (8-11-14, 38 points), which still has a slim chance of reaching the playoffs despite the defeat.
D.C.'s Erik Hurtado and Durkin both had potential first-half goals ruled offside before Klich put his team ahead. Replays showed Hurtado was clearly guilty of the violation. But Durkin's strike went to a video review before the call ruling another D.C. player had strayed too far was upheld.
Klich finally gave D.C. a deserved lead in the 45th minute after Eric Davis' diagonal free kick from the left found Steven Birnbaum at the back post. Birnbaum's header struck the right upright and then rolled across the goalmouth and struck the left upright before Klich reached the rebound for an open finish.
Birnbaum -- who has been battling a hip injury for several weeks -- exited for Derrick Williams in the 51st minute. But Durkin gave the short-handed D.C. defense some breathing room with an excellent second.
Andy Najar sent a ball down the right flank that was only partially cleared. Durkin reached near the right corner of the penalty area, cut inside to his left, then dragged a shot back across goalkeeper Matt Freese and inside the right post.
--Field Level Media