MLS

D.C. United v New York Red Bulls: Lesesne fortunate to work with 'incredible' Benteke

By Sports Desk May 15, 2024

D.C. United coach Troy Lesesne feels fortunate to work with Christian Benteke, who is battling the likes of Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi for the MLS Golden Boot after a flying start to 2024.

Benteke has been in incredible form this year, scoring 11 goals in 10 MLS appearances to join Suarez and Cristian Arango at the top of the scoring charts, with Messi one behind that trio.

The former Liverpool and Aston Villa man scored a hat-trick of headers last time out, helping D.C. recover from behind for a 3-2 win over Atlanta United. 

With Lesesne's former employers the New York Red Bulls visiting Audi Field on Wednesday, the D.C. boss will be hoping for more of the same.   

"He's incredible," Lesesne said of Benteke. "He's got two hat-tricks this year, he's on 11 goals now and he's just such an incredible presence in our team, even beyond scoring.

"He deserves to be talked about first. He is a handful, and he allows other players to come into the match and have dangerous opportunities themselves. I'm very lucky to work with him."

Benteke's form has helped put D.C. in the playoff picture early on this campaign, but the Red Bulls are three points clear of them, sitting third in the Eastern Conference.

They also came out on top in a thriller last week, with two late goals helping them overcome the New England Revolution 4-2.

One of their goalscorers, Elias Manoel, says the Red Bulls' ability to pick up results when not at their best will take them far this term.

"It was really important to keep the consistency because even though we had some unfavourable results, in some games we didn't lose as well," Manoel said.

"This consistency is going to be really good at the end of the competition."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

D.C. United – Christian Benteke

Against Atlanta last week, Benteke became just the second player since 2010 to score three headed goals in a single MLS game, alongside the Five Stripes' Juan Purata in 2022 (versus Toronto FC).

New York Red Bulls – Elias Manoel 

Manoel recorded both a goal and an assist as a substitute in New York's win over the Revolution last week. 

He joined Cameron Harper and Bradley Wright-Phillips as the only Red Bulls players over the last 10 seasons to come off the bench and record both a goal and assist. Will he be rewarded with a start?

MATCH PREDICTION – DRAW

This will be the 107th meeting between D.C. and the Red Bulls in all competitions – it is the most-played match between two MLS teams. The Red Bulls, winners of the last three meetings, have never won four straight against D.C.

D.C. have gone unbeaten through their last three games, winning two and drawing one, while scoring multiple goals in each match. An entertaining draw could be on the cards here… 

The Red Bulls are coming off a 4-2 win over New England in which they only had 33.1 per cent of possession. They have had four games with less than a third of possession and four or more goals in the last three seasons, more than every other MLS team combined.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

D.C. United – 39.1%
New York Red Bulls – 32%
Draw – 28.9% 

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