The duo formed by Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta was a delight during the "second round" of the regular season of the MLS, giving the DC United tints of spectacularity to achieve the ticket to Playoffs, but the spark died out at the most inopportune moment and left the capitalists eliminated in the first round of the league.
Even though DC managed to score two goals before falling on penalties Thursday night against Columbus Crew, a single successful intervention against the arch of either half of the capital duo, may have changed the fate of United.
"It's disappointing," Rooney said after the elimination. "But for us as a team, I think we can be proud of what we achieved during the last months. I think today's game, the people, the atmosphere, the way it happened, was fantastic.
"It showed how far this team has come and we can be proud of our performances, and obviously try to build on this for the next season."
DC came to the Playoffs with a 10-game unbeaten streak, largely due to the partnership between Acosta and Rooney. Between the two, they scored 22 goals and recorded 24 passes for a goal, leading United to score a total of 60 times, their highest number since the distant 1999 season.
Columbus clearly undertook the task of nullifying them and achieved it through the Jonathan Mensah brand to the British, and the joint work of Artur and Wil Trapp to thwart the Argentine's game.
"We focused on a plan to stay compact and on how to prevent central passes," said Ohio Gang tactician Gregg Berhalter. "The guys did a great job executing the plan. There were no spaces. There were not many options for them. You take two high-caliber players out of the game, and it helps your chances of winning. "
Berhalter's counterpart saw it differently.
"I do not know if it was really something they did," said Ben Olsen. "I think we complicated the game in the last third. I think we wanted to go for everything when we could continue to ensure possession and make them work. "
Acosta had participation in the first goal of the premises, and Rooney had it in the second goal that forced the definition by penalties.
But their participation in both cases was of a minor role, not of protagonism. And on penalties, both saw how the goalkeeper Steffen became a hero by stopping their attempts, curiously the two stopped the penalty throwing to his right.
The elimination was really painful, as several in the DC team thought they had a lot more.
"I think it hurts more, which I've been a part of," said defender Steve Birnbaum. "I had never been in a penalty shoot-out in the MLS. This hurt. You do not want your season to end like this.
Goalkeeper Bill Hamid even thought about raising a trophy: "I really wanted a trophy in the inaugural season here. We can build from this, but having been able to lift a trophy in the inaugural season of Audi Field, that was all I was thinking about. "