How did Wayne Rooney’s first season in charge of DC United go?

Wayne Rooney has work to do at DC United
Wayne Rooney has work to do at DC United /

Wayne Rooney’s DC United suffered a 5-2 defeat to FC Cincinnati in their final MLS game of the season last weekend. The result means his side finishes bottom of the Eastern Conference and 21 points off the play-off places.

Cincinnati took the lead in just the sixth minute when Luciano Acosta volleyed in from a Matt Miazga cross. This followed a goal by Brenner just two minutes later. Brenner then got his second of the match in the 24th minute with a delicate finish.

Ravel Morrison, who played under Rooney at Derby County, got one back for DC as he fired in from range. However, Brenner then completed his hat trick before half-time.

Rooney’s side got one back early in the second half through a powerful strike into the bottom corner by Kristian Fletcher, but once again Cincinnati responded and sealed their victory when Brandon Vazquez slotted into an empty net.

Rooney’s reaction

Rooney took to Instagram to illustrate his commitment to DC United saying:

“Massive thank you to all our fans for your continued support throughout the season. Big improvements needed and we’re ready for the challenge ahead. Preparation for 2023 is already underway! ⚫️🔴 #DCU”

How has DC fared since Rooney took over?

Much like when Rooney took over at Derby County in his first managerial job, DC United were also a club that was struggling. The Washington side was in 13th place when he took over.

When his work visa was finally sorted out, Rooney did win his first game in the dugout with a 2-1 victory over Orlando City. However, this was to be their last victory of the season.

His side suffered a particularly heavy defeat to Philadelphia Union which ended 6-0. Philadelphia ended up finishing top of their division, which shows the gulf between the two sides.

Rooney’s points-per-game figure for MLS is just 0.64, much worse than his last season at Derby where they managed 1.20 points-per-game. Star signing Christian Benteke struggled, scoring just once in seven appearances following his arrival from Crystal Palace.

Another arrival from England, midfielder Ravel Morrison did a solid job for Rooney like he had done with him at Derby. Morrison scored twice in 14 appearances and his form has got him back into Jamaica’s squad.

Rooney has given chances to youngsters Jackson Hopkins, Ted Ku-DiPietro and Kristian Fletcher, while defender Matai Akinmboni made his debut this season at just 15 years old.

A challenging moment for Rooney came when his top goalscorer Taxiarchis Fountas was accused of racism during a match with Inter Miami. The manager dealt with it well, substituting him immediately, and Fountas has not played for the side since.

What is next for Rooney in Washington?

The MLS returns in February 2023 and with Rooney committing to the Black-and-Red the only way is up for the side that finished bottom of the Eastern Conference. Much improvements are needed but it was always going to be difficult for him to take over an already struggling side.

Rooney has shown he likes a challenge at Derby, where he got them performing admirably despite a points deduction which led ultimately to their relegation. He now has time to work with the squad and mould it into his own. He is a legend of the game and will no doubt attract top players to join DC United.

He played under Sir Alex Ferguson, so has certainly learnt from the best. At just 36 he is very young for a manager and MLS has shown to be a good development ground for managers, with Jesse Marsch and Patrick Vieira now managing in the Premier League. He needs to improve this DC United side but if their form picks up then it will only be a matter of time before we see him managing at the highest level.

MLS Multiplex
MLS Multiplex /

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