Since D.C. United hired Hernan Losada in January to become the club’s first new head coach in a decade, the 38-year-old Argentine has made clear his expectations for how he wants the team to play.
And while there was an acknowledgment that Saturday night’s opener against New York City FC wasn’t perfect — players are still learning his system and building stamina — Losada saw signs his expectations will be met: A fast-paced, high-pressing style resulted in season-opening 2-1 win.
“I’m very proud,” Losada said. “I’m proud because they run until the very last second. They went to every duel like it was the last one. And that’s the only way for D.C. United. That’s the only way when you work, work for each other, work hard. After seven weeks [of training], the way they work, I think it’s beautiful to see a reward to this group, to the whole group.”
New York had already broken through in the 15th minute via Valentin Castellanos. D.C. United found a way back into the game with a pair of stellar goals late in the first half, though.
Brendan Hines-Ike got the hosts on the board in the 39th minute, leveling the score line on his debut. He launched a long-distance effort that flew past the goalkeeper and sent the 4,500 fans at Audi Field into celebrations.
Not long after, D.C. United earned a corner kick. Julian Gressel lofted in a ball toward the edge of the 18-yard box. That’s where Russell Canouse volleyed an effort that flew into the corner of the goal.
“We had worked on it a couple times in training,” Canouse said, who scored in D.C. United’s second straight season opener. “We had a lot of set plays that we could’ve run going into the game. [Gressel] kind of ran by me on that play and said, ‘Hey, is it open?’ And I didn’t really get my answer across to him very much; he ran by me. But he put the signal up, and luckily I was able to have a great ball from him and make good contact on it and put it in the side netting.”
That goal was all D.C. United needed to secure the victory. It’s just one game. But to begin Losada’s tenure in that way is a boost.
“It’s beautiful to start a season this way,” Losada said. “But coming back to the fitness, we can still get better, and there’s much space to improve a lot. Imagine when the 10 players we have with injuries are coming back.”
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