MLS play-offs: Wayne Rooney leads red hot DC United into championship round of US league
- The former Manchester United and Everton star is having a career renaissance in the MLS for DC United as the team heads into the play-offs
While Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Los Angeles Galaxy squandered a Major League Soccer play-off berth this year, Wayne Rooney and DC United couldn’t be hotter heading into the knockout round which starts tomorrow (October 31).
The 33-year-old all-time leading scorer for England, who switched from Everton in a mid-season transfer taking up a three-year deal with the American club has reinvigorated his career. Rooney has 12 goals and seven assists in 20 matches this season for the club who enter the play-offs fourth in the Eastern Conference.
Rooney has meshed perfectly playing with Argentinian playmaker Luciano Acosta in an attacking midfielder role. Earlier this season Rooney set up what many pundits think was the MLS goal of the year against Orlando when he tracked back and regained possession with a pin-point sliding tackle and then sent a perfectly accurate looping cross right onto the head of Acosta to give DC United the win in stoppage-time.
DC United sit fifth in ESPN’s Power Rankings right now and the team has an almost perfect home record of 12-2-1 at Audi Field in Washington, D.C.
In an interview with ESPN FC, Rooney said he has no plans to head back to Everton in the winter.
“No. I think I committed myself to DC, and that’s why I’m going to give everything to DC. In the off-season I’ll stay here for a lot of that time with my children in school. I’ll go back during Christmas to see some family and friends.
“I’m committed to DC and I don’t think it’d be right for me to fly back and forth to play on loan with another team.”
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Many football pundits were sceptical about his move to DC United and whether he could compete in the MLS, but Rooney added he wasn’t paying much attention to the chatter.
“It’s down to the player, either myself or others to have the right attitude and show, which I’ve done my whole career,” he said. “There’s games when you might not be at your best, but you keep working hard for the team – it’s what I’ve always done and will continue to do.”
Rooney and DC United kick-off their play-off run against the Columbus Crew on Thursday in Washington.
Rooney joins a growing list of ageing European starts who have tried to reignite or prolong their careers by heading to the MLS including Ibrahimovic, David Villa, Thierry Henry, Jermain Defoe and of course, David Beckham. The MLS has grown steadily in terms of viewership ratings and ticket sales over the past few seasons and in 2015 signed a deal with Sky Sports to broadcast games across the UK. The league’s season runs from March to early December.