A late-season friendly in the heat of the MLS playoff race hardly seemed like the proper circumstance for D.C. United’s Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta to reprise their starting partnership.

But with both in need of playing time and the league rigors on pause this weekend, the top-shelf attackers were in action Wednesday for all of the 1-1 draw with Mexico’s Club Puebla before about 6,000 at Audi Field.

Rooney almost provided a phenomenal finish, hitting the crossbar on a 35-yard free kick on the last touch of the entertaining match. A few minutes earlier, Puebla’s Emiliano Garcia, a 15-year-old prospect wearing No. 250, hit the frame.

“From a coaching standpoint of what you would want out of a friendly,” Coach Ben Olsen said, “this is exactly what we want.”

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Several regulars logged serious minutes. Reserves saw real action. And, from initial postgame indications, there were no injuries.

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Olsen had stressed the importance of giving Rooney and Acosta good, long runs. Rooney had missed four of the past eight league matches for a variety of reasons; Acosta lost his starting job amid a disappointing season. They have not started together in league play since Aug. 4.

Starters typically sit out friendlies or play briefly, but with United off from MLS until Sept. 15 at Portland, Olsen summoned not just Rooney and Acosta but also Joseph Mora, Felipe Martins and Ulises Segura.

Russell Canouse, a midfielder turned right back as of this past weekend, entered at his new position after intermission and attacker Lucas Rodríguez (27 starts) recorded 29 minutes.

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The aim was to keep regulars in rhythm — and, in the case of Rooney and Acosta, provide competitive minutes — before United (11-10-9) makes the final four-game push for the postseason.

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United fielded a much stronger lineup than for friendlies against Spain’s Real Betis and France’s Olympique Marseille, blowout defeats that fell in the middle of busy weeks. The performance, in turn, was stronger as well.

“We haven’t shown well in these friendlies, and people are paying to come see us play,” goalkeeper Chris Seitz said. “We have a responsibility to perform.”

Olsen did turn to two inexperienced defenders, Robert Dambrot and Shane Wiedt from second-division Loudoun United. Both are first-year pros from the University of Pittsburgh. “They competed and listened and showed a little bit of personality,” Seitz said.

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Puebla (1-3-3 and 17th in 20-team Liga MX) retained three starters from the 1-1 draw at Queretaro on Sunday. Five others were available as subs.

After recent acquisition Emmanuel Boateng missed an open net, United went ahead in the fourth minute. Acosta created the danger, and right back Leonardo Jara swung a cross to Quincy Amarikwa for a simple six-yard volley.

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Seitz, starting for Bill Hamid, made two quality saves before intermission and one late. In the 75th minute, however, Diego Abella beat him with a rasping drive from the top of the box.

Notes: Argentine attacker Yamil Asad signed a short-term deal with Loudoun United and a three-year precontract with D.C. United, effective in January, multiple people close to the situation said. He attended the Puebla match and joined the team in the locker room afterward.

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Asad will begin playing for Loudoun as soon as a work visa is approved. He posted nine goals and eight assists with D.C. last season while on loan from Argentine club Velez Sarsfield, then returned home this year for just one appearance. …

Silver Spring photographer Tony Quinn, a Washington Post contributor, was named the recipient of the Colin Jose Media Award for induction into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. The ceremony is Sept. 21 in Frisco, Tex., site of the new museum. ...

The starting time of United’s match in Portland was changed to 3:30 p.m. Eastern time, four hours earlier than originally scheduled, to accommodate ESPN coverage.

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