DC United have finally signed Wayne Rooney. His debut will be July 14, the same day as the Audi Field opening against the Vancouver Whitecaps. It is the day all have been waiting for.
It has been a difficult time for DC United. They are in last place in MLS. They have slipped out of the national limelight, a difficult thing for a sports franchise based in Washington, have toiled through a mire of disastrous seasons, and have been without a home.
That is never a nice place for any organisation to be in. Losing is demoralising; losing without a home is heartbreaking.
And DC have been looking for a home for some time. It was in July 2006 that they submitted their first plans for a stadium based on Anacostia River. That vision will not be completed until 12 years later after a meandering of ups and downs, hopes and hindrances, great joys and terrible tribulations.
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Audi Field will open on July 14. The game, against the Vancouver Whitecaps, will be a celebration of a long and tiresome road home. It will be a jubilation, like LAFC enjoyed earlier in the year when they christened the Banc of California stadium.
But what will be different to LAFC is that DC have more than just a home to celebrate. They have a new star to help cut the tape for them. Yes, July 14 against the Whitecaps will most likely be the full debut of Wayne Rooney, the man that has been incessantly linked with a move to DC for some time.
The news was made official on Thursday morning. While it had been coming for some time, the delay had created confusion. There were conflicting reports about the progress of the deal, some suggesting that it was all polished up bar the announcement, others suggesting that Rooney was having second thoughts; there was a growing doubt riddled in a fanbase that had grown accustomed to the dashing of hopes; there was uncertainty, and that was unsettling.
Rooney, unfortunately for DC, will not be available for selection until after the transfer window officially opens on July 10. That is why his debut will not be for another two weeks against the Whitecaps. And while that is disappointing to be forced to wait and see yet another superstar take to MLS, it will provide one of the greatest days of DC’s recent history.
Rooney is DC’s highest-paid player ever. He will be given their biggest contract ever. He is their highest profile signing in history and it’s not especially close. This is the very definition of a coup. And his introduction will coincide with the opening of a stadium that has been so painfully and so slowly in the making.
July 14 really is a day that everyone has been making for.