DC United

DC United embarks on MLS playoffs with Wayne Rooney’s tenure near its end

DC United embarks on MLS playoffs with Wayne Rooney’s tenure near its end

The MLS playoffs has a new look this year, with all teams now pitted against each other in do-or-die knockout rounds instead of the two-legged conference semifinals and finals format. For fifth-seeded DC United, that means Wayne Rooney could be playing his final MLS match when the postseason kicks off Saturday.

Rooney, who starred for Everton and Manchester United for 16 years before coming to the U.S. ahead of the 2018 season, announced in August that he’ll be going back to England to be a player and assistant coach for second-tier Derby County. He’s led the team in goals each of the past two years, including some highlight-reel strikes from beyond midfield.

DC United finished with 50 points this season, which tied Toronto FC for the fourth-best mark in the Eastern Conference. Toronto took the tiebreaker in the Eastern Conference standings and will host DC United tonight at 6 p.m. for the right to face New York City FC in the conference semifinals Wednesday.

The signing of Rooney and opening of Audi Field in 2018 created a lot of buzz among D.C. fans but the team is still looking to reclaim the success it sustained in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Since winning the MLS title in 2007, DC United has finished with 50+ points just four times.

The team captain’s time in D.C. may be coming to an end sooner than expected, but after being ousted by Columbus Crew SC last postseason in a match that came down to penalty kicks, DC United has one more chance to live up to the hype that came with Rooney’s presence before it’s too late.

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XFL's DC Defenders games leave Audi Field in patches ahead of DC United's season opener

XFL's DC Defenders games leave Audi Field in patches ahead of DC United's season opener

When D.C. United fans file into Audi Field on Saturday, excitement will be high about the dawn of a new season. But they'll also be reminded about the presence of the XFL's DC Defenders. 

After the Defenders played two February games at Audi Field, the field still has faded yard-line markings for a football field and the remnants of the endzones on both sides of the pitch. 

Goff later tweeted that United's coaching staff said it looks worse than it actually is.

When Audi Field opened in 2018, the field was in pristine condition and always maintained to a tee. But with another tenant occupying the venue, the field for the home opener has a sizable patch in the middle of the field, making the pitch less than aesthetic for onlookers. 

The XFL announced the Defenders' plans to play at Audi Field in December 2018. Washington Post soccer insider Steven Goff reported at the time that "United has apparently included clauses that require the XFL to pay for major field repairs and possible resodding."

Audi Field is one of three Major League Soccer venues to also share a stadium with XFL teams, with the Seattle Sounders' Century Link Field and the Los Angeles Galaxy's StubHub Center being the others.

With footing being an integral part of soccer, the XFL impact on the field will be something to monitor on Saturday and until the XFL season's conclusion, which comes in April.

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A guide to D.C. United's season opener vs. Colorado Rapids

A guide to D.C. United's season opener vs. Colorado Rapids

DC United kicks off the 2020 season on Saturday at Audi Field with a matchup against a Colorado Rapids club that finished ninth in the Western Conference a season ago. 

Following a heartbreaking first-round playoff loss to Toronto, DC will look to bounce back in a big way with a new-look roster. There's no more Wayne Rooney and Paul Arriola is out for a while recovering from a torn ACL, but DC still has a ton of talent all over the field with new additions Julian Gressel, Edison Flores and Yamil Asad. 

If you're planning on heading down to Audi Field, here's everything you need to know on how to get there, buy tickets and who to look out for on the pitch. 

When/Where

When: Saturday, February 29 at 1 p.m. ET

Where: Audi Field, 100 Potomac Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024

How to get there

You can always drive to Audi Field or use one of the ride-sharing apps to get you there, but you can always use public transportation. 

If you take the metro, you have two options. Take the green line to the Navy Yard-Ballpark stop or jump off the train at the Waterfront stop and walk to Audi Field. Neither walk is bad, though the trek from Waterfront is closer to the stadium. 

Then there's the bus. Metrobus Route 74 has stops along P Street SW at 3rd and 4th Streets SW, O Street SW at 1st Street SW and Half Street SW at O Street SW. It’s about three-to-five blocks from the bus stops to Audi Field.

Tickets

There are about a million ticket websites you can use, but to simplify that process for you, here's the link to the team's ticket sales page

You could also just go to the box office when you get there and buy tickets on-site. 

Players to watch

Like we said before, Rooney is gone and Arriola is hurt, while there are a lot of new faces on this club. Edison Flores was acquired via transfer by DC United, who paid a record-breaking transfer fee to acquire the Peruvian midfielder. Flores is under contract with DC for the next five years, so you'd better get used to seeing him out there. 

Julian Gressel, who was acquired via transfer from Atlanta United, is one of the better playmakers in the MLS. Since he was drafted in 2017, Gressel has accumulated the most assists in the league during that span (32). 

Ola Kamara has 51 goals to his name so far in his career and has scored at least 14 in each of the last three seasons. Playing alongside a playmaker like Gressel, DC could have a very dangerous attack on their hands. 

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