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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Wayne Rooney's wife, Coleen, might just be the best detective since Sherlock Holmes.
Wayne is one of the most famous English soccer players in the world and spent 13 seasons starring for Manchester United, the most famous English team. Thus, he and his wife deal with plenty of tabloid coverage.
Coleen announced Wednesday that over the past five months, she's conducted her own investigation to find out which of her supposed "friends" has been leaking information to the press. After blocking all but one of her followers from seeing her Instagram stories and then posting fake news bits, Coleen revealed her suspect. It turned out to be Rebekah Vardy, wife of Jamie Vardy, who's a striker for Leicester City and has played with Rooney on the national team.
Vardy was quick to respond on Instagram.
“As I have just said to you on the phone, I wish you had called me if you thought this,” she said in her post. “I never speak to anyone about you as various journalists who have asked me to over the years can vouch for. If you thought this was happening you could have told me & I could have changed my passwords to see if it stopped. Over the years various people have had access to my insta & just this week I found I was following people I didn’t know and have never followed myself. I’m not being funny but I don’t need the money, what would I gain from selling stories on you? I liked you a lot Coleen & I’m so upset that you have chosen to do this, especially when I’m heavily pregnant. I’m disgusted that I’m even having to deny this. You should have called me the first time this happened.”
So, this is either an incredibly well-operated sting operation or somehow a big misunderstanding. Either way, it was a captivating back-and-forth.
The Sun, the tabloid in question in this situation, wrote Wednesday that it had asked Coleen's reps for comment, but never received one.
Wayne, on the other hand, is still scheduled to leave DC United at the conclusion of this season to be a player-manager at Derby County in January 2020.
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Wayne Rooney has been suspended by MLS for an additional match following his actions that warranted a red card in last Wednesday's match against the New York Red Bulls.
In the opening 30 minutes of the contest, the D.C. United striker elbowed Red Bull Cristian Cásseres Jr. in the penalty area during a corner kick. Rooney was removed from the match via a red card and forced him to leave the contest. United had to play down a man where they eventually lost 2-1.
With Rooney's hit and removal being the result of a blow to the head, it is mandated that serve a one-game suspension when the club played the Philadelphia Union on Saturday. MLS's disciplinary committee felt that Rooney's behavior deserved for him to miss another game.
"Anyone who knows the game of football can see what the intent was. It was to try to ease the player out... Obviously disappointed to get a red card, but also disappointed because I don't agree with the decision," Rooney told reporters after his red card on Wednesday. "I need to be careful with what I say after what I said last week."
Rooney referring to an altercation he had just a week prior where he cursed at the fourth official after coming off the field during a match. Afterward, he also criticized MLS on Twitter for travel issues.
His suspension will have him missing United's contest against the Montreal Impact.
His absence against Montreal is a huge blow as United is making a push to the MLS Playoffs. Currently, D.C. (39 points) is fifth in the Eastern Conference table and Montreal (34 points) is eighth with only the top seven making it to the postseason.
After Montreal, there are only four games left on United's docket on the 2019 MLS regular season. Those also being the last four MLS matches that Rooney will dawn the Black and Red as he is leaving to serve as a player-coach for Derby County.
Needless to say, England's all-time leader in goals is heading out with a bang.
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