DC United

Is D.C. United's Steve Birnbaum headed towards starting role with U.S. Soccer?

Is D.C. United's Steve Birnbaum headed towards starting role with U.S. Soccer?

D.C. United defender Steve Birnbaum’s rapid ascension to U.S. Men’s National Team starter isn’t quite complete, but if the 25-year-old does grab a starting job at this summer’s Copa America Centenario tournament — United Head Coach Ben Olsen won’t be taken aback.

“Some guys I’m surprised at, but I’m not one bit surprised that he’s on this stage,” Olsen said Thursday, less than 24 hours after Birnbaum played all 90 minutes in a 1-0 United States win over Ecuador. “Watching him through college and understanding the character he has as a person, the way he enjoys defending, some of his physical qualities - it doesn’t surprise us.”

Whatever those around RFK say now, Birnbaum’s rise has come quicker than most pundits thought likely when he was drafted out of California two years ago. But since impressing in U.S. Soccer’s January camp last year, Birnbaum has factored regularly into U.S. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s plans — and now seems to have a leg up for one of two starting positions in the center of the American defense.

“As a center back, a shutout is a big deal,” Olsen added. “He has put himself in a good light for Jurgen for the rest of the tournament. Hopefully he gets into real games, games that matter.

Those 'real games’, start June 3rd with the United States’ Copa America Centenario opener against Colombia in Santa Clara, California. Three other central defenders on the U.S. roster - Matt Besler, John Anthony Brooks and Geoff Cameron - all have World Cup experience, so Birnbaum’s position is hardly a lock.

“He’s got room to grow — he’s got a long way to go before he’s a true starting center-back on an international stage,” Olsen acknowledged of his young defender. “But this is a great opportunity to show that he has that ability.”

Wayne Rooney converts ridiculous free-kick marking 10th MLS goal

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USA Today Sports

Wayne Rooney converts ridiculous free-kick marking 10th MLS goal

When England's all-time goalscorer signed on with D.C. United in June, the soccer community in the nation's capital was ignited. 

Shortly after the excitement came the questions. How much does he have left in the tank? Can he actually carry a struggling D.C. United squad? Is he up for the task? 

Wayne Rooney has responded. 

Through 18 MLS matches, the 32-year-old now has 10 goals. 

In the first half of Wednesday night's game against Toronto FC, Rooney broke a scoreless tie with this free-kick strike. 

DC United currently sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, on 44 points.

 

MORE WAYNE ROONEY NEWS: 

 

Wayne Rooney is already a D.C. United hero with incredible, last-second play

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USA TODAY Sports

Wayne Rooney is already a D.C. United hero with incredible, last-second play

Wayne Rooney has only been in Washington, D.C. for a few weeks, but he keeps giving fans a reason to love him. 

The 32-year-old former Manchester United star produced a stunningly jaw-dropping sequence for D.C. United on Sunday against Orlando City, and it left soccer fans everywhere in awe.

With the score tied at 2-2, six minutes of extra time were added to the clock, Rooney came up big with a spectacular sequence.

Not only did he chase down Orlando City's Will Johnson for an incredible defensive stop with less than a minute remaining, but he also made it back to midfield to perfectly set up Luciano Acosta's game-winning goal. D.C. United beat Orlando City, 3-2. 

Rooney comes out of nowhere. Look at that tackle!

This is the kind of  sequence you have to watch a couple times because it's truly unbelievable.