By Joey Sabet
Wayne Rooney will wear his familiar No. 10 shirt Thursday night in his final match for England, when the Three Lions meet the United States in an international friendly at Wembley Stadium in London.
Rooney, who will earn his 120th cap for England, will start the match on the bench before entering, according to his manager Gareth Southgate.
“All of our group have great respect for Wayne and they feel that it is fitting that his last game should be in the No. 10,” Southgate said in a news conference Wednesday.
The D.C. United forward’s 53 goals with England is most in his country’s decorated soccer history, and no English outfield player has more international appearances than Rooney.
He left Everton Football Club to join D.C. United midway through the 2018 MLS season, appearing in 20 games and starting 18.
Despite his relatively brief time with the club, his 12 goals led United, and he spearheaded a turnaround that took the team from the bottom of the Eastern Conference to a berth in the postseason, where they fell in the opening round to the Columbus Crew in penalty kicks.
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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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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.