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‘But hey this is MLS’: Wayne Rooney slams MLS’ travel arrangements

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Wayne Rooney is not a fan of MLS’ travel arrangements.

D.C. United lost 1-0 to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday in Canada, and had to fly back to the nation’s capital before prepping for a midweek showdown with visiting New York Red Bulls.

To the 33-year-old Englishmen the trip should’ve taken six hours, not half a day.

MLS is notoriously known for the lack of charter flights it offers its teams, a mere four per season is the reported amount each team is allocated. Traveling on commercial flights has caused routine delays for a slew of team’s this season, with certain teams arriving only hours before the first whistle in some cases.

Players, however, will reportedly push for better travel in the upcoming CBA negotiations. Not only for Rooney, but for the majority of professional athletes around the world, flying charter is customary.

Upon his arrival to D.C. in 2018, Rooney turned down first-class flights offered by the Black-and-Red, among other fine accommodations. “If you are going to be part of the team, you have to be part of the team,” Rooney said on his decision to reject first-class flights and private hotel rooms. “All in and do the same things. I don’t want special treatment — I wanted to be treated the same as the players. I’m part of this team.”

Rooney, despite being on his way out of D.C. to join Derby County in January, is certainly a part of the team.

He is also now a part of the complex fight for better travel in MLS.

FOLLOW LIVE: Ten games to catch on busy MLS Saturday

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With MLS All-Star Week coming up, the remaining MLS weekend schedule is squeezed into Saturday, with no less than ten games on tap.

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The Washington Post reported on Friday that Wayne Rooney is back with D.C. United after taking a few days to return to England with coach Ben Olsen’s blessing. That meant Rooney missed D.C. United’s 2-0 defeat to Atlanta United last weekend as well as their 8-1 thrashing (with mostly fringe players, to be fair) against Marseille in midweek.

Now, Rooney could be set to go up against former Manchester United Bastian Schweinsteiger and the Chicago Fire, which is looking to move up in the table and snatch a playoff place.

Meanwhile, coming off a dramatic 3-2 derby win over Los Angeles FC, the LA Galaxy now travel north to face the Portland Timbers. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is in stellar form, as seen with his three-goal display last week, but it will be interesting to see how he plays on the turf at the renovated Providence Park. The Timbers meanwhile have predictably seen their form turn positive since returning home, losing just once in their last seven games.

Follow along with us at the link above and stay tuned for more reaction and analysis post game here on PST!

Saturday’s MLS schedule

New England Revolution v. Orlando City — 7 p.m. ET
New York Red Bulls v. Columbus Crew — 7:30 p.m. ET
Chicago Fire v. D.C. United — 8 p.m. ET
FC Dallas v. Real Salt Lake — 8 p.m. ET
Houston Dynamo v. Seattle Sounders — 8 p.m. ET
Minnesota United v. Vancouver Whitecaps — 8 p.m. ET
Montreal Union v. Philadelphia Union — 8 p.m. ET
Toronto FC v. FC Cincinnati — 8 p.m. ET
San Jose Earthquakes v. Colorado Rapids — 10 p.m. ET
Portland Timbers v. LA Galaxy — 10:30 p.m. ET

Pity proves his point as Atlanta tops DCU late (video)

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The game in 200 words (or less): Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez started on the bench, deemed by head coach Frank De Boer as an subpar performer in recent weeks, largely due to a perceived lack of defensive work rate. For the 65 minutes that Martinez sat on the bench, Atlanta United sorely lacked the creative spark required to break down D.C. United. Seven minutes after Martinez came on, Atlanta had themselves a penalty kick (it was missed), and the defending MLS Cup champions eventually scored twice in the game’s final minutes to wrap up a victory at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and climb over DCU for second place in the Eastern Conference standings, now just three points back of first-place Philadelphia Union. De Boer won the battle in putting Martinez on the bench, but Martinez appears to have won the (highly important) war of public opinion.

[ MORE: MLS Saturday wrap: Quakes keep firing; Toronto, SKC falter ]

Four moments that mattered

33′ — Guzan denies Arriola one on one — Luciano Acosta slotted a pair of perfect through balls to Paul Arriola in a very short period, but neither resulted in a goal. Arriola deferred with a cross on the first and was denied by Brad Guzan after taking one too many touches before firing his shot. Chances wasted in a game with very few of them for DCU.

72′ — Martinez skies his penalty — Josef Martinez has one of the stranger penalty run-ups, complete with a hop, skip and a jump before striking the ball. The goal, presumably, is to force the goalkeeper to commit one way with the unorthodox movement, and easily slide the ball home the other way. What happens when the ‘keeper doesn’t budge, as Bill Hamid didn’t here? Ah…

89′ — The “other” Martinez wins it late — Darlington Nagbe made a great run, which was rewarded by Julian Gressel, before floated the ball toward the back post, which feels like something that will definitely be lost in all of the talk about narrative revolving around Pity and De Boer.

90’+2 — Martinez to Martinez for the nail in the coffin — How’s that for an impact substitution? Also, how’s that for a freebie do-over following the botched penalty?

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Man of the match: Pity Martinez

Goalscorers: G. Martinez (89′), J. Martinez (90’+2)

FOLLOW LIVE: Seattle v. Portland, ATLUTD v. DCU on a busy MLS Sunday

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Strap yourself in for a very busy Sunday of soccer, as four MLS games are set to consume your attention for the rest of the day.

[ FOLLOW: MLS scoreboard, for the next 7.5 hours ]

The day begins with Atlanta United hosting D.C. United in a 3-versus-2 matchup in the Eastern Conference, and ends with the Seattle Sounders hosting the Portland Timbers in arguably the biggest and best rivalry in MLS.

In between all that, a suddenly resurgent Orlando City SC hosts the New York Red Bulls, and FC Cincinnati hosts the red-hot (unbeaten in nine games) New England Revolution, in case you feel the need to cram a little more soccer into your afternoon/evening.

Sunday’s full MLS schedule

Atlanta United v. D.C. United — 4 p.m. ET
FC Cincinnati v. New England Revolution — 6 p.m. ET
Orlando City SC v. New York Red Bulls — 7:30 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders v. Portland Timbers — 9:30 p.m. ET

DC United back to winning ways with 4-1 rout of FC Cincinnati

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D.C. United hasn’t added too many tick marks to the win column of late, but they got back to victory lane with a 4-1 victory over FC Cincinnati that featured a fantastic second half.

The win is just the club’s second since May 13, and that should give Ben Olsen and company a huge boost as they jump into second place in the East past Atlanta United and move four clear of the fourth-placed New York Red Bulls. With Philadelphia just a single point on top, it’s all to play for despite the nine-match run that saw just one win, now ended by the victory at Cincinnati.

Luis Rodriguez bagged a brace while Wayne Rooney and Paul Arriola added one each to complete the scoreline. The visitors to Nippert Stadium went ahead on the first of Rodriguez’s pair, a curling effort with his right foot that put D.C. United up before halftime.

The home side struck back with a penalty by Emmanuel Ledesma nine minutes after the break, but it took D.C. just two minutes to restore the lead as Rodriguez again came through, this time via a deflection that took the ball into the top-left corner.

Rooney and Arriola were then on hand to put the game away, with the former England international latching onto an exquisite long ball from Leonardo Jara that was presented on a platter for Rooney to split the center-backs and finish cooly for a 3-1 lead. Arriola finished it off with 17 minutes to go, again on the breakaway as the American international burst down the left and finished it himself from a tight angle.

Playing with the lead for most of the second half, D.C. United was happy to let FC Cincinnati hold much of the possession, 57% to be exact. They were deadly on the counter, leading the shot count 17-11 despite the possessional deficit, including 8-3 on target. Up next for D.C. United is a critical date with Atlanta United on Sunday as the two duke it out near the top of the Eastern Conference.