Wayne Rooney

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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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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Wayne Rooney charged with misdemeanor after incident at Washington-area airport

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Wayne Rooney charged with misdemeanor after incident at Washington-area airport

D.C. United star Wayne Rooney was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of public swearing and intoxication, according to Loudon General District Court records.

The arrest, which happened on December 16, was first reported on Sunday by ABC 7.  He was arrested by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police at Dulles International Airport after an incident at the International arrivals gate.

"Mr. Rooney had triggered a door alarm but did not breach airport security," a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police said in an emailed statement. "Mr. Rooney was charged with public intoxication and transported to Loudon County Detention Center to be held until sober."

According to court records, Rooney was released on his own recognizance and paid a $25 fine.

"We are aware of news reports indicating that Wayne Rooney was arrested in December," a D.C. United spokesperson emailed in a statement. "We understand the media's interest in this matter but believe this is a private matter for Wayne that D.C. United will handle internally. We have no further comment on the situation."

The former English national team captain signed with D.C. United in late June. He led the team with 12 goals and had 20 assists in 20 games. 

Paul Stretford, Rooney's agent, told the Washington Post that Rooney “took a prescribed amount of sleeping tablets mixed with some alcohol consumption and consequently was disorientated on arrival. He was approached by police who arrested him on a minor misdemeanor charge," he said. 

“The matter is now at an end. Wayne would like to put on record his appreciation for the manner he was treated by all involved.”

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