2019 Major League Soccer, Regular Season
  • Paul Arriola (45'+1')
  • Luciano Acosta (58')

Paul Arriola, Luciano Acosta lead D.C. United past Atlanta United

Luciano Acosta scored and added an assist, and D.C. United preserved the first clean sheet of the MLS season in a 2-0 victory over visiting Atlanta United in both teams' season openers on Sunday evening.

Paul Arriola also scored for D.C., which won to open the season for the first time since 2015 and has now gone 12 consecutive matches in all competitions without a regulation loss dating back to last season -- not including February's friendly slate. After closing the 2018 regular season with 10 straight unbeaten matches, D.C. exited the playoffs on penalties in the knockout round following a 2-2 draw against Columbus Crew SC.

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Defending MLS Cup champions Atlanta lost to D.C. for a second consecutive visit to Audi Field, having fallen 3-1 here last September. The reigning champs lost despite making only two changes to their starting lineup following a 4-0 victory Thursday in Leg 2 of their first round series against Costa Rica's Herediano in the Concacaf Champions League.

Atlanta flies directly from D.C. to face Monterrey in Leg 1 of a CCL quarterfinal on Wednesday.

Acosta nearly left D.C. in the offseason after a widely reported potential transfer to Paris Saint-Germain fell apart in the final hours before the French transfer deadline.

After that disappointment, he offered comfort to D.C. fans Sunday that his focus for the moment remains in Washington, playing a key

After cagey opening stages, D.C. United began generating more consistent pressure later in the first half and eventually took the lead just seconds into first-half stoppage time.

On a second consecutive corner kick, Acosta was first to Wayne Rooney's in-swinging service toward the far post and knocked it back across goal. Arriola was first to it, hammering in a first-touch finish.

Acosta added his goal 12 minutes after the break, taking a pass from Lucas Rodriguez, cutting inside and then unleashing a dipping shot that badly fooled goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

That more or less put the match out of reach against an Atlanta side that registered only two shots on target, its first not until Eric Remedi's long-range effort at Bill Hamid in the 69th minute.