Luciano Acosta scored three goals, including a Wayne Rooney-assisted game-winner in the sixth minute of second-half stoppage time, as D.C. United edged 10-man Orlando City in dramatic fashion 3-2 on Sunday night at Audi Field in Washington.
Acosta's game-winner came just seconds after Rooney sprinted back to stop an Orlando City breakaway at midfield with the D.C. United net empty. Rooney then spun around and booted a long crossing pass to Acosta, who headed it into the net from the left corner of the six-yard box for his fourth goal of the season.
David Ousted made three saves for D.C. United, which improved to 2-0-1 in its past three games. D.C. United remains in last place in MLS' Eastern Conference but has at least three games in hand on each of the other 10 teams.
Dom Dwyer scored his 11th goal of the season and Joe Bendik stopped three shots for the Lions. However, eighth-place Orlando City lost their ninth consecutive road game and are now 0-5-1 in their past six games.
Orlando City, which came into the contest allowing an MLS-worst 54 goals in 23 matches, and D.C. United, which had allowed the sixth-most goals (36), both focused on defense at the start with few quality chances in the first 40 minutes.
Rooney had the best chance in the first 22 minutes when he had a breakaway that started about 10 yards outside the penalty box. However, Lions midfielder Oriol Rosell caught up with Rooney before he could attempt a shot, and the former Premier League star instead had to pull the ball out and pass it to trailing Zoltan Stieber, whose left-footed attempt sailed wide of the goal.
The Lions' best early scoring chance occurred when midfielder Chris Mueller came in free on the right side of the penalty box and fired a right-footed shot toward the near top corner of the net. A leaping Ousted knocked the ball away in the 28th minute.
D.C. United's first shot on target didn't come until the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time when Acosta, breaking in on the right side of the penalty box, took a pass from Rooney and blasted a shot past Bendik into the far corner of the net.
D.C. had a chance to make it 2-0 in the 47th minute, but Stieber's left-footed shot from just outside the top of the box hit the left post and bounced out of bounds.
Orlando City tied it 1-1 three minutes later when Rosell's crossing pass from near the right goal line hit Ousted's back foot and caromed in for an own goal.
In the 55th minute, Orlando City's Cristian Higuita was red-carded for violent conduct after elbowing Yamil Asad in the face as they ran down the field. The Lions were forced to play with 10 men the rest of the way.
Acosta made it 2-1 in the 64th minute when he redirected Asad's long looping pass through the legs of Bendik before crashing into the Orlando City goalie. The play was initially ruled offside, but the goal was eventually allowed following a video review.
Dwyer tied it in the 71st minute, breaking in alone after taking a pass from Rosell and then scooping a short shot over Ousted's shoulder.
Bendik had two big saves down the stretch to keep the match even, stopping a short left-footed shot by Darren Mattocks in the middle of the box off a nice feed by Rooney in the 85th minute and also a short header by Kofi Opare in stoppage time before allowing Acosta's game-winner.