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DC United have hired Manchester United and England legend Wayne Rooney as their manager. Rooney recently quit Derby County, who find themselves in League 1 after a difficult 19 months for the club. The club remains in administration. Derby County were handed a 12-point deduction, followed by a nine-point penalty in last season’s EFL Championship for entering admission and breaching EFL accounting rules. Rooney received many plaudits for nearly making survival a possibility in the middle third of the season.
England and Manchester United’s record goal scorer is now back at DC United, where he spent two years as a player. His appointment and managerial debut in the MLS are likely to take up all the headlines ahead of this game.
DC United have met CF Montreal 27 times, with the former winning 11 games, eight ending in a draw and eight being won by the latter. DC will be looking for a lift with the new manager but CF Montreal remain favorites.
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DC United were mostly worthy winners in the last match between these two sides, which took place back in August 2021. CF Montreal took the lead against the run of play in the 16th minute after Braut Guillard’s attempted cross from the right flank went all the way in.
DC United peppered the goal all game with 16 shots compared to CF Montreal’s six and were rewarded with goals in each half. Andy Najar scored a header in the 40th minute from an excellent Julian Gressel free-kick.
Ola Kamara then found the bottom corner in the 54th minute from a perfectly curled effort on the edge of the box. The possession stats were even at 50-50 but DC United were by some distance the better team on the day. CF Montreal never really got going, only getting two shots on target and never looking likely to hurt the opposition on the day.
DC United got a bit of a thrashing in their friendly against Bundesliga champions, Bayern Munich, the other day but if anything is to jolt their season into action, it’s a new manager and playing against one of the best sides in Europe. It should help lift spirits in the camp.
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Wayne Rooney hasn’t been a manager for long but in his short career, his teams have shown the fighting spirit that defined his football career. DC United fans should expect that going forward from his very first game in charge.
This isn’t the first time he’s coming in as a savior for the club. When he joined the club as a player in 2018, the club was struggling in a similar manner before he helped them make it to the playoffs. DC United currently find themselves at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with 18 points from 19 games. There isn’t a lot to lose going forward, which might just help Rooney ease in.
If Rooney is to look at some of the underlying metrics, he’ll definitely see room for improvement. Despite being last in the conference table, DC United have only played 19 matches so far with many of the sides having already played 21.
They have games in hand and technically aren’t out of the running for a playoff spot. Their underlying numbers are far from good but it doesn’t read like one of the worst teams in the league. There’s been some bad luck along the way. The team has conceded more goals than anyone bar San Jose Earthquakes, who are tied with DC United on 41 conceded in the MLS this season.
However, their expected goals against value according to FBRef via statsbomb is just 30.2. They’ve conceded almost 10 goals more than they were expected to and have an expected goal differential (expected goals minus expected goals against) of -6.1. Orlando City, who are in 5th place on the Eastern Conference standings have a worse expected goal difference of -6.7. These things happen but eventually regress to the mean. It wouldn’t come as a big shock if DC United stopped conceding so many goals after Rooney’s arrival. Managerial bounces often work like this.
DC United have got a long list of injuries. Center-forward, Adrien Perez, has been out since March with a fractured foot. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid got a finger injury early last month. Right-back Andy Raynar’s been out with a muscle injury for over two weeks and left-back Brad Smith got a cruciate ligament rupture a little over a week back.
After two bumps, CF Montreal got back to winning ways with a 1-0 win over Toronto FC. There was some good fortune involved with an own goal deciding the outcome but CF Montreal won’t care. They now sit in 4th place on the Eastern Conference standings with third place on the cards because of the game in hand over New York Red Bulls.
The 4-0 loss to LA Galaxy from over a week ago came as a shock but was a bit of an anomaly for what’s been a pretty good season for CF Montreal. Galaxy were quite clinical on the day but CF Montreal don’t have to worry too much about their defense. They’ve conceded 35 goals so far this season, which is far too much for a side in the top half of the table but their expected goals against is 22.1, which is the best in the league.
This suggests that they’re the side that gives away the least amount of easy shots at goal and it’s a bit of surprise that they’ve conceded almost 13 goals more than expected. A lot of this comes down to the goalkeeper, Sebastian Breza, not having the best season.
He’s got a save percentage of 53.6% this year, which is far from good enough and a post shot expected goals of -7, which means he has conceded 7 goals more than he should have. The management and staff need to work this out quickly because it could get costly later in the season.
Where Breza has disappointed in the net, Mihailovic’s clinical finishing has helped even things out a little. He has scored 7 goals this term despite having an expected goal value of just 3.6. This isn’t sustainable and he’ll likely go on a scoring drought soon but it’s helping FC Montreal stay close to the top sides. Romell Quioto has also scored seven goals this term with an expected goal value of 7.4. If Mihailovic does blank in a few games, they have another reliable goal scorer to count upon.
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|Teams||DC United vs CF Montreal|
|Location||Audi Field, Washington, D.C.|
|Time||Saturday, July 23 at 8pm EST onwards|
|How to watch||TSN5, TVA Sports, ESPN+, NBCSWA, TeleXitos, dcunited.com and TSN|
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Varun is a web journalist who has been writing on sports for 13 years. He took a shine for the MLS during the 2021 season and has been following it and writing about it since, alongside his work involving the English Premier League, La Liga, and the Serie A. He is deeply interested in soccer analytics and strategy and has aspirations to move into coaching at some point. Email: [email protected]More info on Varun Shetty
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