DC United

Wayne Rooney to leave DC United at end of 2019 season

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Wayne Rooney to leave DC United at end of 2019 season

The 2019 season will be Wayne Rooney's last with DC United.

The celebrated forward announced he will be returning to England to be a player-coach for Derby County in the English Championship in 2020.

“I remain fully focused on giving my all for the team for the rest of this season and repaying the support shown by the Black-and-Red faithful by hopefully delivering an MLS Cup to Audi Field," Rooney said in a statement. "My time in Major League Soccer is something I will always be proud of. The supporters in the Screaming Eagles, Barra Brava and District Ultras have made my time in America so enjoyable. While the decision to move home was a tough one, family is everything to us and we make this change to be closer to the ones we love back in England. The opportunity to go back home and start the next step of my career in coaching was the factor that made my mind up. I would like to thank everyone at D.C. United for the incredible support my family and I have received over my two seasons at the club.”

Rooney was the latest in line of overseas stars to come to MLS - following players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Beckham - when he signed what was reportedly a 2.5 year deal worth $13 million in 2018. His arrival injected stardom and energy into the franchise and his MLS career has included moments like this one in 2018:

And this goal earlier this season: 

He has nine regular-season games left with the team, which is currently in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. British newspapers have pointed to his wife's homesickness as one reason why he's leaving the US to head home.

"After speaking to Wayne and understanding his difficult situation of being so far away from his family, we have accepted that this is the best decision for all parties," Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien, D.C. United Co-Chairmen, said in a statement. "Our main focus now is the 2019 MLS Season and ensuring we make a push towards the playoffs with the ultimate goal of bringing an MLS Cup back to the District. Wayne is an exceptional leader and one of the most iconic players to play the game so we look forward to his continued contributions to the team this season."

 

Wayne Rooney's MLS career ends as United falls in the playoffs

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USA Today Sports Images

Wayne Rooney's MLS career ends as United falls in the playoffs

TORONTO -- Jonathan Osorio scored twice, Richie Laryea and Nick DeLeon added two more in a four-goal extra-time outburst and Toronto FC beat D.C. United 5-1 on Saturday night in the first round of the playoffs to end Wayne Rooney's MLS career.

The 33-year-old Rooney is returning to England to join Derby County.

Toronto advanced to play at New York City FC on Wednesday night.

Lucas Rodriguez tied it for D.C. United in the 93rd minute. Toronto then scored in the 93rd, 95th, 103rd and 105th minutes.

Laryea beat Bill Hamid from close range three minutes into extra time after Michael Bradley stole the ball and fed DeLeon. Two minutes later, Drew Moor headed Alejandro Pozuelo's corner into the goal front and Osorio banged it in. Osorio hammered a volley from just inside the penalty box, and DeLeon, a former D.C. United player, made it 5-1 with a swerving shot from distance.

Marky Delgado opened the scoring for Toronto in the 32nd.

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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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