Chad Ashton is steadying the ship as D.C. United appointment Wayne Rooney waits for his visa approval, with the Black and Red aiming for improvements at Minnesota United in MLS.
Interim coach Ashton oversaw a low point with D.C, who fell to a 7-0 defeat against Philadelphia Union before news broke of the imminent arrival of coach Rooney.
Ashton labeled that defeat as “embarrassing” but was encouraged by a “fantastic response” in a 2-2 draw with Columbus Crew, despite D.C. falling to the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
“I thought the response was fantastic,” Ashton said as D.C. wait for Rooney to be granted his working permit in the United States. “Great to see a response from the team.
“They’ve taken in a lot of information and to be able to take that in and go out there and execute it fairly well, I thought it was really impressive.
“It was a new look for us. It was a lot different and the way the guys took it in and understood it was impressive for the first time out.
“Obviously the more they get to do that and execute and work on it, it’s going to get better and better. I think it really bodes well.”
The Loons are fifth in the Western Conference after a four-game unbeaten streak, but coach Adrian Heath hopes to improve after a 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City.
“It’s four games without defeat and we’ve got a home game to come at the weekend,” he said.
“We’ll have to play better than we did tonight against the team that’s coming in with a new coach.
“Obviously, they’ll be full of it, trying to impress the new guy and then we’ll go from there.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Minnesota United – Emanuel Reynoso
Emanuel Reynoso has been a revelation in front of goal for the Loons, finding the net four times in his last four games.
D.C. United – Taxi Fountas
Taxi Fountas has been a star performer for the underwhelming Black and Red, scoring his 10th MLS goal of the campaign against the Crew on Wednesday.
KEY OPTA FACTS
·The home side has won all four MLS meetings between Minnesota and D.C., with each team recording two home victories. The Loons have outscored D.C., 5-0, in the two meetings in Minnesota.
·Minnesota allowed a game-tying goal to substitute Johnny Russell in the team’s 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday. It was the ninth time this season that the Loons had allowed a substitute to score a goal against them, which is the most in MLS.
·D.C. United got goal from Ola Kamara in the 92nd minute to earn a 2-2 draw against the Crew on Wednesday. It was the latest match-tying goal for the Crew since incoming manager Wayne Rooney scored in the 92nd minute to draw Toronto in June 2019.
·Emanuel Reynoso had 92 touches in Minnesota’s Wednesday draw with Sporting KC. It was Reynoso’s seventh game this season with 90+ touches, with the only MLS player with more such games in 2022 being New England’s Carles Gil (11).
·Taxi Fountas scored his 10th MLS goal in just his 12th appearance for D.C. United on Wednesday. Only five players in league history have reached the 10-goal mark in fewer appearances, most recently Nemanja Nikolic for the Fire in 2017 (11 games).