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Christian Benteke plays and Wayne Rooney’s DC United win! Belgian striker comes off the couch to make his debut

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Christian Benteke plays… and Wayne Rooney’s DC United FINALLY wins! Belgian striker comes off the bench to debut for a team he hasn’t even trained with yet to help make the six-game winless run with NYCFC’s win

  • Christian Benteke made his long-awaited debut for DC United on Wednesday night
  • He played 17 minutes in a 2-1 win for the team, despite not training with them yet
  • Coach Wayne Rooney said he was ‘delighted’ to have him available for the game

Christian Benteke’s whirlwind journey to his DC United debut ended with a win Wednesday night, as the team defeated NYCFC 2-1 to take its first (and final) win in August.

Benteke, who delayed his first DC gig for nearly a month due to waiting for a work visa, played 17 minutes after flying straight to New York the day before to meet the team.

The former Liverpool, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace man had yet to set foot in DC or even train with his team-mates, but he was still able to contribute to a much-needed win.

Christian Benteke came off the bench to help DC United achieve a 2-1 win on Wednesday

“He was on a long flight yesterday, he did not train with the team and to be ready and available tonight to make a few minutes I am very happy and delighted,” said his coach Wayne Rooney.

“He brings a lot of experience and goals. As you can see 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 is reportedly set to earn a club record salary – even more than Rooney earned as a player at the club.

Wayne Rooney now coaches Benteke after the striker came out of the Premier League

Wayne Rooney now coaches Benteke after the striker came out of 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 three points from the game, which they never found out.

‘I’m very happy. When you see the guys play and you’re not part of the team, it’s very difficult. But I’m here now,’ he said.

“I think it’s the life of a footballer. I think I have enough experience to deal with this kind of situation. So I arrived yesterday, but when you’re excited, when you’re looking forward to your challenge, you don’t think about being tired or flying, you just want to play games.”

While settling in DC, Benteke is tasked with supporting an attack that has failed all year.

United have scored just 32 goals in 28 games – the second worst in the Eastern Conference – and have scored two goals in just three of their last ten games (including last night).

However, with 86 Premier League goals to his name, Benteke thinks he could do some damage in the US.

“From what I’ve seen, there are more open, there are more targets,” he said of MLS.

“So I think that’s what you’re looking for as an attacker.”

The striker also elaborated on his reasoning for his MLS move after the game.

After falling out of favor with Crystal Palace, Benteke appears to be at peace with his decision to leave Europe for (what should be) more regular time.

Benteke called Rooney a 'legend' and said the decision to join DC was 'easy'

Benteke called Rooney a ‘legend’ and said the decision to join DC was ‘easy’

“Honestly, my dream was to play in the Premier League. And I was lucky, I played there for 10 years and I felt like I had achieved 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 in me. And when I got the chance to talk to the manager, he is clearly a legend, it was an easy decision in the end.

“I really wanted to pick something that makes me happy, and I’m willing to take all the consequences from that,” he said. “I wanted to do something that I would choose for myself, that would make me happy when I woke up. So that’s my whole decision. I didn’t really think of anything else.

Benteke could make his second appearance for the club on Sunday, when the club hosts the Colorado Rapids.


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