DC United

Report: Wayne Rooney may return to DC—as an opponent

Report: Wayne Rooney may return to DC—as an opponent

The last time Wayne Rooney stepped onto Audi Field, he did so as the face of D.C. United.

Now, he slated to return as a member of the opposition.

The Washington Post reported Monday that D.C. United and Rooney’s current club Derby County are close to finalizing a friendly match to be played between the two clubs in October.

Rooney, 34, joined United in 2018 after garnering international fame as a member of Manchester United from 2004-17. He’s a five-time Premier League champion who brought an level of pedigree to Washington that D.C. hadn’t seen before.

The Liverpool native was slated to play through the 2020 season with United but opted to return to England due to personal reasons. His final game with United came last October, when the club lost 5-1 to Toronto FC in the first round of the MLS playoffs.

As pointed out by The Post, the match would be scheduled for an unusual date. With MLS playoffs beginning in mid-October, the friendly would presumably be scheduled between the regular-season finale and start of the postseason. Friendlies between American and European teams are usually held from May through June.

United will begin its MLS slate Saturday when it hosts the Colorado Rapids for the season opener.

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How Ben Olsen is coaching D.C. United during coronavirus quarantine

How Ben Olsen is coaching D.C. United during coronavirus quarantine

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the MLS season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen is working to find his way in the face of massive changes to the day-to-day life of so many around the world.

"The priority right now with the group that we have is to maintain a level of fitness," Olsen said on a conference call with local reporters this morning. "All we can do right now is follow the guidelines given by MLS."

Even though the team is not able to meet face-to-face like they normally would, Olsen and his staff have had to get creative in ways to continue to build team chemistry and make sure everyone is on the same page.

"We have a once-a-week call with everyone on a Zoom chat with the trainers," he said. "We talk about things like social media and how to stay connected to fans, the programs we are sending out and we get feedback from [the players] on what is going well."

Dealing with the pandemic has been especially challenging for players from overseas, who might not have the same support systems that those longtime MLS players have in the area. The club is making a particular point to reach out to those players.

D.C. United and its staff are also making sure that all of the club’s players are able to partake in individualized training to keep a level of fitness, even if that means getting some workout equipment to players who might not have it where they live.

As new challenges arise and are met, Olsen is trying to keep a positive mindset and joked that he now has the time to be a better husband and father than he normally would at the start of a new season.

"There’s this underlying positivity that again I feel very, very lucky because of the scenario I’m in," the head coach noted. "I’m also constantly thinking about others that are not in the situation I’m in. Whether it’s the EMTs, the firemen, the D.C. support system, our medical doctors, so many people on the frontlines that are doing so much and putting their lives in danger right now. I make sure we as a family are constantly reminding our children that there’s a lot of people out there doing some great things in a very, very tough time."

When asked what he misses most about what would be the end of the opening month of the MLS season, Olsen stated that he misses the locker room and being with his players.

"Dealing with the ups and downs of a season, dealing with the journey of the season," he said. "It’s a special thing that we have and I think in some ways you have to lose it to appreciate it. Right now I miss being in that locker room, I miss the guys, I miss my staff."

While no one knows yet when the season will return, Olsen is "very bullish and optimistic" that MLS will recover quickly.

"Of course the league will take a hit, just like every other league and every other business across this country," Olsen said. "This league will be just fine when we get through this, just like our country will be just fine."

Marco Etcheverry, Jaime Moreno headline DC United’s Mount Rushmore, according to ExtraTime Radio

Marco Etcheverry, Jaime Moreno headline DC United’s Mount Rushmore, according to ExtraTime Radio

The trophy case is full for D.C. United with 4 MLS Cups, 4 Supporters’ Shields, 3 U.S. Open Cups, a CONCACAF Champions Cup title and a Copa Interamericana title to the club’s name.

As such, there are so many great players to have worn the Black-and-Red over the years and with the sports world on hold, ExtraTime Radio is running through a Mount Rushmore for each MLS team.

It should be no surprise that Marco “El Diablo” Etcheverry is the first name on the list from the ExtraTime Radio crew. One of the all-time MLS greats, Etcheverry was the backbone of the first (and arguably best) dynasty in league history.

Over the course of his eight seasons with the club, El Diablo tallied 34 goals and 101 assists in 191 league appearances. The Bolivian midfielder’s assists rank sixth on the all-time MLS leaderboard and he led the team to three MLS Cups while winning league MVP in 1998. Just five players in MLS history have been named to more MLS Best XI’s with his four straight nods from 1996 to 1999.

Following Etcheverry on D.C. United’s Mount Rushmore is Jaime Moreno, another no-doubt candidate.

He leads the club in games (329), goals (131), assists (102), PK goals (42) and game-winning goals (26). Moreno spent all but one of his 15 MLS seasons rocking the Black-and-Red and was the first player in MLS history to score 100 goals and 100 assists. (Landon Donovan is the only other player in league history to accomplish the feat.) Moreno is as decorated as any player in club history with 12 titles over his 14 seasons with the club and, just like Etcheverry, is one of the very best MLS has ever seen.

The third member of D.C. United’s Mount Rushmore according to the ETR crew is defender Eddie Pope.

Drafted by the team in the first-ever MLS College Draft in 1996, Pope immediately become a mainstay of the backline and earned four nods to the MLS Best XI in his career. Pope scored the winning goal in the 1996 MLS Cup and accomplished the same feat the next year in the Copa Interamericana.

Not only did Pope shine for the Black-and-Red, he also cemented his place in U.S. Soccer history with his performances for the U.S. Men’s National Team.

The fourth spot on D.C. United’s Mount Rushmore was much-debated by the ExtraTime crew with names like Christian Gomez, John Harkes, Raul Diaz Arce, Bill Hamid and others bandied as options. But their fourth spot went to Ben Olsen, who has been a part of the Black-and-Red since his MLS Rookie of the Year-winning season in 1998.

Olsen made 221 appearances over 12 seasons for D.C. United and then became an assistant coach with the club. When Curt Onalfo was fired midway through Olsen’s first year as an assistant coach, he was promoted to interim head coach and has been at the helm of the club for the last 10 seasons. Olsen led D.C. United to the US Open Cup title in 2013 and earned MLS Coach of the Year honors in 2014 when the Black-and-Red went from worst to first to win the Eastern Conference title.