The Scoreboard is a sports feature spotlighting the winners and losers, the champs and chumps, the highlights and lowlights, and anything in between, of sports in the D.C. area.
Late in the game between D.C. United and New York City FC on Oct. 21, Luciano Acosta dribbled the ball up the field, sprinting past defenders with his lightning quick feet. And before the New York defense could settle, he delivered a pinpoint no look pass with his back foot to a teammate.
The sold-out crowd at Audi Field let out a collective, “Oooohh,” at Acosta’s fancy footwork. One of United’s communications staff members sitting in the press box put his hands on his head. “What he did is indescribable,” he said.
This is what Acosta, the electrifying 24-year-old Argentine playmaker, can do. And if Wayne Rooney is the shiny new toy D.C. United fans didn’t expect they’d get, Acosta—or at least this version of him—is the hero the team and its most passionate fans have craved. In the 19 games he’s played since Rooney’s arrival in July, Acosta (who goes by the nickname “Lucho”) has tallied nine goals and 10 assists, including one of each in Sunday’s 3-1 victory, which clinched a playoff spot for United.
“Lucho was outstanding,” goalkeeper Bill Hamid told reporters after the game. “Second half of the season, you’ve really seen him come alive. It’s not easy for him. He gets kicked a lot. He gets zoned in on a lot, but he keeps fighting. Even when he’s not doing too well, he keeps fighting, keeps pushing. He has those moments where he just produces brilliance.”
The Nationals regressed in manager Davey Martinez’s first season in charge, going from 97-65 in Dusty Baker’s final season to 82-80 and missing the playoffs. But the team’s front office is staying the course.
As expected, Martinez and his entire staff will return in 2019, according a report by Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post. The report adds that Martinez will enter the second year of a three-year deal and will be joined by hitting coach Kevin Long, pitching coach Derek Lilliquist, bench coach Chip Hale, first base coach Tim Bogar, bullpen coach Henry Blanco, and third base coach Bob Henley.
Martinez was often criticized for his handling of the bullpen and for the laid back atmosphere he created during spring training. (Who can forget the camels?)
But general manager Mike Rizzo appeared to confirm Martinez’s job security in September, telling reporters, “I haven’t considered any other scenario.” He added, “I think Davey has done a great job managing this team.”
Now, Martinez will officially have another chance to prove his case.
Mess on the Boards
The story of the season for the Wizards, thus far, is rebounding. Really, really bad rebounding. Through three games (two losses and one win), Washington is last place in the league in rebound percentage—a stat that estimates the percentage of total available rebounds a team gets.
In the team’s season opener loss, the Miami Heat outrebounded the Wizards, 55-40. Two nights later, the Toronto Raptors finished with a 52-37 rebounding advantage. The Wizards even lost the rebounding battle in their win against the Portland Trailblazers, who had 70 (!) rebounds compared to Washington’s 54.
You get the idea.
It doesn’t help that center Dwight Howard has yet to play, and that Ian Mahinmi left the game against Portland with back spasms.
“It’s rebounding. Bottom line is rebounding,” coach Scott Brooks told reporters after the Heat game. “It’s fundamental basketball.”