DC United

How Wayne Rooney has gotten so good at striking from mid-field

How Wayne Rooney has gotten so good at striking from mid-field

Famed striker and DC United star Wayne Rooney joined Roger Bennett and Michael Davies for a live edition of their podcast Men in Blazers at the British Embassy on Monday.

Rooney started the conversation by discussing how his departure at the end of the season for Derby County will impact the end of his tenure with DC. For now, he's still focused on making the most of his time.

"I think our main priority right now is to secure a playoff spot and then if we do that we can try and push and try and win the title," Rooney said.

Currently, United are fourth in the table in the Eastern Conference and are clinging to a playoff berth.

Rooney then explained how he was able to knock in a shot from halfway down the field against Orlando City, saying that he had been thinking about making a shot like that since the game started.

"I'd seen the goalkeeper three, four minutes before and thinking 'why is he standing there?' He was so far out," Rooney said. 

"I think you're always taught as a child to know where the goal is no matter where you're at," Rooney clarified. "I've always been looking for keepers whenever they're in games where they're 20 yards out, 10 yards out or 50 yards out. I always try and have an awareness of where the keeper is in case the ball falls for me and can get a shot off."

The shot also requires immense amounts of confidence according to Rooney. "You have to be willing to know that you're not gonna score many times when you try it, but the odd times you might score," Rooney noted. "[Don't] be scared to make mistakes and be ready."

Rooney's strike with United was his third such time attempting a mid-field shot. He completed the feat twice while playing in the Premier League, once when he played for Everton to complete a hat trick, and again when he played for Manchester United.

Rooney remarked that the strike for Everton was one of the cleanest balls he'd ever hit.

"This one was perfect. The flight of the ball, the depth of the ball, everything was perfect," he reminisced.

You can watch Rooney's appearance on the Men In Blazers podcast on September 15 on NBC Sports Network as part of their Premier League coverage.

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DC United acquires midefielder Julian Gressel from Atlanta United

DC United acquires midefielder Julian Gressel from Atlanta United

One week after paying a record-breaking transfer fee to acquire Edison Flores, DC United added another midfielder to the roster in the form of Julian Gressel. 

DC United acquired Gressel from Atlanta United via transfer Tuesday for $650,000 in 2020 Target Allocation Money (TAM) and $100,000 in TAM for 2021. Additional compensation could be owed to Atlanta based on performance incentives. 

Gressel was the eighth overall pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft and has led the league in assists since debuting with Atlanta in 2017. Over his first 98 career appearances, he's recorded 32 assists to go along with 15 career goals. 

"[Gressel] has impressed throughout his time in MLS and has been a major component to Atlanta’s success in the league since 2017," DC GM and VP of Soccer Operations Dave Kasper said in a statement. "Last year, he led Atlanta in assists and chances created while also scoring eight goals so we’re looking forward to adding his impressive goal creating ability and eye for goal to our roster in 2020 and beyond."

Gressel was the 2017 MLS Rookie of the Year after scoring five goals and recorded nine assists in his first 32 appearances as a pro. 

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D.C. United pays record-breaking transfer fee to sign Peruvian midfielder Edison Flores

D.C. United pays record-breaking transfer fee to sign Peruvian midfielder Edison Flores

As D.C. United looks to replace the production of its three leading goalscorers from last season, including England legend Wayne Rooney, the club announced the signing of Peruvian midfielder Edison Flores Tuesday. To acquire Flores, the Black-and-Red paid Morelia, his former club in Mexico, a $5 million transfer fee — a new club record for D.C. United — according to Steven Goff of the Washington Post. 

The 25-year-old appeared in three matches for Peru’s national team in the 2018 World Cup, which Flores helped his country qualify for with five goals in 14 appearances during World Cup qualification. Flores also netted two goals for Peru’s national team in the 2019 Copa America. 

Flores' contract with D.C. United is for five years for a team-high $2.1 million, according to Goff. The Peruvian will occupy one of the team’s three designated player spots. 

The Black-and-Red have one remaining designated player spot, which they could use for another high-profile acquisition before the season begins on Feb. 29, or during the summer transfer window. 

D.C. United will enter the 2020 season without the services of three of its most prolific attacking options from last year. Rooney, who scored 11 goals in 2019, returned to his native  England for a role as a player-coach with Derby County. Midfielders Luciano Acosta and Lucas Rodriguez, who both scored six goals last season, also left the club.

There's hope that Flores can help offset the effects of that lost production.

“We are excited to add an international player of Edison's pedigree to the team ahead of the 2020 season," Dave Kasper, D.C. United General Manager and VP of Soccer Operations, said in a release. "He is an exciting and dynamic attacking player who creates and scores goals. What has really impressed us is his commitment to the team...he is a versatile and gritty two-way player who plays with a real pulse.