D.C. United and coach Wayne Rooney will hope a short week leads to a bounce-back performance when they host CF Montreal on Wednesday evening in Washington.
D.C. United (5-6-4, 19 points) saw a three-match unbeaten streak end Saturday with a 2-1 road loss to Toronto FC.
Seconds before D.C. United went into halftime down 1-0, Rooney sent a message to his team by making a triple substitution, benching midfielders Ted Ku-Dipietro and Chris Durkin and defender Gaoussou Samake for forward Taxi Fountas, midfielder Pedro Santos and defender Andy Najar.
"I wish I had 11 (subs to make)," Rooney said postgame. "I had to keep the two (others) in case of injuries. But the first half was nowhere near the standards that we've set ourselves.
"Obviously I could've waited till halftime, but it was more of a statement to the team that I didn't like the first half at all. I didn't feel we showed the fight or the composure or the intensity which I want."
D.C. trailed 2-0 when Christian Benteke netted his team-leading seventh goal in the 87th minute to save some face. Only six MLS players have scored more goals than Benteke this season.
D.C. has already beaten Montreal (6-8-0, 18 points) this season, a 1-0 road win April 15, on the strength of Lewis O'Brien's goal in the 46th minute.
That was CF Montreal's only loss at home, where they are 5-1-0 in MLS play after Saturday's 1-0 win over visiting Inter Miami. But they are an ugly 1-7-0 on the road and will need to be better on an upcoming three-game trip, beginning Wednesday.
"We are definitely not the same team from the start of the season and we're not the same team that lost (to D.C. in April)," Montreal coach Hernan Losada told reporters. "We're in a very positive state right now. There's very good energy with the group and the cohesion is getting better and better."
Losada served as D.C. United's coach in 2021 and part of 2022 before Rooney was brought on.
Chinonso Offor scored the decisive goal for Montreal against Miami. He has three goals on the season and is expected to play a more important role with forward Romell Quioto out long-term with a hamstring injury.
--Field Level Media