D.C. United: Wayne Rooney sparks new life into United’s attack
Wayne Rooney has completely turned around the scoring struggles D.C. United had last season. He has sparked new life into United’s attack.
Last weekend, D.C. United found itself in a difficult situation at home against the Chicago Fire. Although United had most of the possession in the game, the visitors were winning 1-0 in the second half.
It was at that moment that United flipped the switch. With United’s playoff hopes on the line, the team could not afford a loss. Wayne Rooney arrived.
About 10 minutes after Raheem Edwards had put the Fire up 1-0, United forward Rooney responded with an equalizer. About 20 minutes later, Rooney scored again in the 81st minute, to no one’s surprise. United would go on to win the game 2-1. It was the fourth straight game where United had scored at least two goals.
D.C. United’s high-scoring rate is a major contrast from the scoring struggles the club had last season. Throughout the entire year, the team had only managed to score 31 regular season goals, the lowest total in the league that season. Fortunately for United, the Colorado Rapids also had a miserable year. They too had only scored 31 goals last season.
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Fast forward to the current season and D.C. United’s scoring woes have completely disappeared. After Rooney’s brace against the Chicago Fire on Sunday, the team has scored 55 regular season goals this year, the eighth highest total in the league so far.
So how significant is this change? To put it into perspective, D.C. United is only a goal away from matching its highest scoring season since 2007, where the club scored 56 total regular season goals.
With four games remaining on the schedule, it’s more than likely that the team will surpass that milestone from 2007. There is also a possibility that United could surpass the 58 regular-season goal total that it had back in 2005.
This recent scoring success can be attributed to a variety of things. However, the most important factor may have been the signing of Wayne Rooney. So far this year, Rooney has scored nine goals and collected seven assists. United are also 5-0-1 this season when Rooney scores a goal.
While his offensive stats are great, what he does off the ball is almost as important. He is able to draw defenders away from his teammates with his runs, giving them the liberty to roam through the middle and down the wings. Rooney also has the dribbling skills and quick decision-making to provide his teammates quality scoring opportunities.
Thanks to Rooney’s talent and experience, he has been able to elevate his teammates’ performances to another level. Last season, United’s leading goal scorers were Luciano Acosta and Patrick Mullins, who both only scored five goals. However, so far this season, United has had six players score at least five goals.
Forward Darren Mattocks has scored 10 goals, Acosta, Rooney and Yamil Asad have scored nine, Paul Arriola has scored seven and Zoltán Stieber has scored five. This is a huge difference from the scoring production United had last season.
The player who has benefited most from Rooney’s arrival is midfielder Acosta. While the Argentine player struggled to score at the start of the year, his production significantly increased after Rooney joined the team.
So far this season, Rooney has provided four direct assists to Acosta on goals. The Argentine midfielder has also thrived as a playmaker in his own right. He has dished out 16 assists this season, the second highest total in the league. And of these 16 assists, nine have come in the 14 games that Rooney has started. Similarly, in those same 14 games, Acosta has scored eight of his nine goals.
Both Rooney and Acosta have played vital roles in D.C. United’s resurgence this season. Their efforts on the field have helped transform United into a contender. As the team looks to secure a playoff spot this season, Rooney and Acosta will have to maintain their excellent form moving forward.
This is a very different D.C. team to the one that started the season. And, primarily, it’s all because of one man. Wayne Rooney has provided a new spark to the United attack.