#sports Christian Benteke plays and Wayne Rooney’s DC United wins! Belgium striker comes off bench to debut
Christian Benteke plays… and Wayne Rooney’s DC United FINALLY wins! Belgium striker comes off the bench to debut for a team he hasn’t even trained with yet to help it snap six-game winless run with NYCFC victory
- Christian Benteke made his long-awaited debut Wednesday night for DC United
- He played 17 minutes in a 2-1 win for the team despite not yet training with them
- Coach Wayne Rooney said he was ‘delighted’ to have him available for the match
Christian Benteke’s whirlwind trip to his DC United debut ended with a win Wednesday night, as the team took down NYCFC 2-1 to earn its first (and last) win in August.
Benteke, who saw his first DC appearance delayed nearly a month by the wait for a work visa, played 17 minutes after flying straight to New York the day before to meet up with the team.
The former Liverpool, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace man had yet to step foot in DC or even train with his teammates, but he was still able to contribute to a badly-needed win.
Christian Benteke came off the bench to help DC United close out a 2-1 win on Wednesday
‘He was on a long flight yesterday, he hasn’t trained with the team, and to be ready and available to get some minutes tonight, I’m very pleased and delighted,’ his coach Wayne Rooney said, according to MLSsoccer.com.
‘He brings a lot of experience, and goals. As you’re seeing tonight, he makes it difficult for defenders – defenders always know they’ve been in a game.’
Benteke officially signed with the club on August 5 as a designated player and will reportedly earn a club-record salary – even more than Rooney made as a player with the club.
Wayne Rooney is now coaching Benteke after the striker arrived from the Premier League
Expectations will be high for the Belgian, but Wednesday was just the first step in what he and United hope will be a fruitful partnership.
Goals from Ola Kamara and Steve Birnbaum gave United all three points from the match, which they never trailed in.
‘I’m really happy. When you see the boys playing and you’re not part of the team, it’s really hard. But I’m here now,’ he said.
‘I think it’s the life of a footballer. I think I’ve got enough experience to deal with this kind of situation. So I arrived yesterday, but when you’re excited, when you’re looking forward for your challenge, you don’t think about being tired or about flying, you just want to play games.’
As Benteke settles in DC, he’ll be tasked with bolstering an attack that has floundered throughout the year.
United have scored just 32 goals across 28 games – second-worst in the Eastern conference – and have scored two goals in just three of the last ten games (including last night).
With 86 Premier League goals to his name, however, Benteke thinks he can do some damage stateside.
‘From what I’ve seen, more open, there are more goals,’ he said of MLS.
‘So I think as a forward, that’s what you’re looking for.’
The striker also touched on his reasoning for his MLS move after the game.
After falling out of favor at Crystal Palace, Benteke seems at peace with his decision to leave Europe for (what should be) more regular playing time.
Benteke called Rooney a ‘legend’ and said the decision to join DC was an ‘easy’ one
‘To be honest with you, my dream was to play in the Premier League. And I’ve been fortunate, I played there for 10 years, and I felt like I’ve reached what I wanted to do as a kid,’ he said.
‘I felt that a new challenge would be something that would push me, and bring something different out of me. And when I had a chance to speak with the manager, obviously he’s a legend, it was an easy decision in the end.
‘I really wanted to choose something that makes me happy, and I’m ready to take any consequences from that,’ he said. ‘I wanted to do something that I would choose myself, what would make me happy when I wake up. So that’s my whole decision. I didn’t really think about anything else.
Benteke could make his second appearance for the club on Sunday, when the club hosts the Colorado Rapids.