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Wayne Rooney loving life at DC United

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Wayne Rooney is loving the quiet life in the United States of America.

The all-time leading goalscorer for England and Manchester United made his MLS debut on Saturday, coming on for the final 33 minutes as D.C. United won 3-1 against the Vancouver Whitecaps in their own debut at their new $500 million Audi Field home.

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Rooney, 32, impressed in his brief spell on the pitch as DCU’s loyal fans celebrated a marque moment for the franchise in their new stadium and with a big-name Designated Player wearing the No. 9 jersey.

The former Manchester United and Everton man assisted Paul Arriola for D.C. United’s third goal and was involved in the build-up for their second as his clever touches and flicks impressed in his brief cameo. With 14 of their final 19 games of the season at their new home due to Audi Field opening on July 14, Rooney will be hoping to drag DCU up the Eastern Conference standings as they currently sit bottom.

Speaking to the Daily Mail around his arrival in MLS, Rooney lauded life off the pitch in the capital city as he hasn’t been recognized strolling through a mall or going to a coffee shop.

“I know I can relax a bit more. At home, you are looking over your shoulder and having to think to yourself, ‘What is going on there?’ You don’t know who is watching you and you have to be careful with what you are doing all the time,” Rooney said. “I think I can have a quiet life now and, when the children come over, I’m sure the time I get to spend with them in public will be a lot better now. It has been very easy to settle. I’ve been made to feel very comfortable. I’ve got freedom to be me, which hasn’t always been the case.”

And here is exactly why a move to MLS appeals to so many superstars who, like Rooney, have been followed everywhere for their entire career. Tales of Steven Gerrard hanging out at the beach with his kids and Thierry Henry jumping on the subway in NYC are plentiful as star players get the chance of that “freedom” Rooney talked about.

Rooney has been in the public eye for 16 years since he burst onto the scene as a teenager in the Premier League and now he’s enjoying the quiet life in the D.C. suburbs. Can you blame him?

With Zlatan Ibrahimovic loving the attention in LA and the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger and David Villa also seen out and about at events in Chicago and New York City respectively, Rooney will no doubt take on a similar role to interact with the sports community in D.C.

That said, it seems like he’s enjoying popping down to the local coffee shop and hanging out at the mall right now.

MLS roundup: Rooney, Audi Field debut and DCU win

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It was a wild night in MLS action — even by Major League Soccer’s lofty standards of weirdness — headlined by the debuts of Wayne Rooney and Audi Field in Washington, D.C., Orlando City SC winning a game, and Sporting Kansas City’s ongoing slide down the Western Conference standings.

[ MORE: World Cup final preview — France vs. Croatia ]

D.C. United 3-1 Vancouver WhitecapsFULL HIGHLIGHTS

Rooney and Audi Field were meant to be the stars of the night, and they will ultimately be remember as such, but Alphonso Davies did everything in his power to steal the headlines. Despite the fact his Whitecaps were 3-0 down late in second-half stoppage time, Davies scored one of the goals of the season after taking on a trio of United defenders at the corner of the penalty area.

Yamil Asad’s opening goal, the first in the history of Audi Field, wasn’t half-bad either, and at some point on Saturday, United morphed into Barcelona (Lite) and shredded the Vancouver defense with a pair of tiki-taka sequences for a second and third goal.

As for Rooney, he was quite good. The 32-year-old notched an assist on goal no. 3 (Paul Arriola) and was pretty clearly the sharpest, quickest-thinking player on the field. His speed of play — receiving the ball, reading the field and getting rid of the ball — was phenomenal and he stood out as the best player on the field during his 32-minute shift.

New York Red Bulls 3-2 Sporting Kansas CityFULL HIGHLIGHTS

Sporting KC, without the like of Matt Besler, Ike Opara, Felipe Gutierrez (in the starting lineup) or a natural left back, were in a strong position to secure a quality result away from home, but came away empty handed after conceding a pair of late goals at Red Bull Arena.

Bradley Wright-Phillips put the home side ahead after just four minutes, but the lead last only as long as it took to establish it, as Johnny Russell scored for a second game in a row to make it 1-1.

Six minutes into the second half, Roger Espinoza smashed his own Goal of the Week nominee past Luis Robles to put Peter Vermes’ side ahead and, it appeared briefly, in position to snap a three-game winless skid.

It wasn’t to be, though, as Marc Rzatkowski scored twice in quick succession — in the 72nd and 79th minutes — to punish Sporting’s shorthanded defensive unit and give the Red Bulls a much-needed boost and first victory under new head coach Chris Armas. The win sends New York to 35 points, five clear of fourth-place Columbus in the East, and keeps them within touching distance (five points back) of both Atlanta and New York City with a pair of games in hand. Sporting, meanwhile, remain third in the West, five points back of first-place FC Dallas.

Orlando City SC 2-1 Toronto FCFULL HIGHLIGHTS

It’s been a rollercoaster season for Orlando, who won six straight games between the end of March and the start or May, then lost nine straight immediately thereafter. Jason Kreis was fired as a result, and now — after more than two months without a win, or a point — the Lions are winners again. Somehow, some way, they are only five points out of sixth place in the East.

Toronto, on the other hand, are 11 points back and with each passing game and draw/defeat, they must overcome an even taller task just to return to the playoffs a year after winning MLS Cup.

Chris Schuler scored the opener in the 34th minute and Dom Dwyer made it 2-0, which turned out to be the game-winning goal, three minutes into the second half. Nick Hagglund’s 94th-minute tally was merely a footnote on a relief-filled night at Orlando City Stadium.

New England Revolution 2-3 LA GalaxyFULL HIGHLIGHTS

In a battle of two teams about which no one understands anything after more than half of the season, the LA Galaxy made the most of the 67 minutes playing with a man advantage… by scoring in the 92nd and 93rd minutes to overcome a 2-1 deficit and win 3-2 at Gillette Stadium.

Cristian Penilla was sent off after 23 minutes, but Diego Fagundez and Luis Caicedo had Brad Friedel‘s side 2-1 ahead at halftime (Chris Pontius made it 1-1 at one point). No more goals were scored until Dave Romney made it 2-2 in the 92nd and Pontius completed the scoring in the 93rd. Just like Sigi Schmid drew it up with Zlatan Ibrahimovic not making the trip to Foxborough.

Minnesota United 3-2 Real Salt LakeFULL HIGHLIGHTS

Darwin Quintero has singlehandedly made Minnesota not only watchable, but downright delightful to watch. At some point, MLS goalkeepers are going to remember that he’ll go for the chip, and he’ll probably beat them with it.

After the game, RSL head coach Mike Petke delivered another all-time great MLS rant. Speaking about the inconsistencies with video-assistant review (VAR), Petke hit every high note in perfect pitch (watch until the very end, please, we beg of you).

Elsewhere in MLS action

Montreal Impact 2-0 San Jose Earthquakes
New York City FC 2-0 Columbus Crew SC
FC Dallas 3-1 Chicago Fire
Colorado Rapids 0-0 Houston Dynamo

Rooney on the bench for DCU, Audi Field debut

AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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WASHINGTON (AP) — D.C. United forward Wayne Rooney was not in the starting lineup for Saturday’s game against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Rooney is listed as one of the seven available substitutes for coach Ben Olsen in the teams’s first game at Audi Field.

The 32-year-old Rooney, who signed a 3 1/2-year designated-player contract with Major League Soccer on July 10, is the all-time leading scorer for England’s national team and Manchester United in the Premier League.

Rooney led his boyhood team Everton with 11 goals last season before following in the footsteps of fellow countrymen David Beckham, Frank Lampard, and Steven Gerrard in making the move to the United States.

United are 2-7-5 on the season while the Whitecaps are 7-7-5.

Rooney looks to lead DC ‘on and off of the pitch’

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Wayne Rooney knows DC United needs a lot of work to get back to into the playoff race, let alone its previous glory.

But the longtime Manchester United and England man thinks he’s the sort of guy who can fill the nets with goals and the Black-and-Red supporters with hope.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

And with Luciano Acosta, Paul Arriola, and Yamil Asad, there’s reason for Rooney to think he can be the straw that stirs the proverbial drink.

From DCUnited.com:

“I think there is talent in the team, maybe with a little bit of guidance and a little bit of help, on and off of the pitch, I can help them and they can help me. So, I am looking forward to it — a new challenge, a new culture, a new league to play in and new teammates. I’m excited for the first game, I can’t wait to get started.”

There’s also reason to be hopeful that Rooney can lead young American stars Chris Durkin and Ian Harkes in the ways of professionalism (not that there are any signs Ben Olsen’s young men are missing it).

I’ve made it clear in my posts about Rooney that I’d be stunned to see him fail to make a positive on-field impact at DC, though whether that translates into enough wins to move the meter in 2018 remains to be seen.

But he thinks he’s found the right American city for him.

“I’ve been to places like L.A. and New York and it’s too hectic, it’s like London. For me, I never fancied going to live in London. I need my own space to get away from things when I need to, and Washington seemed to give me that opportunity to do that.”

Read his quote sheet here.

Wayne Rooney signs for DC United in MLS

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Wayne Rooney‘s move to Major League Soccer is now official. The legendary forward is now a D.C. United player.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

The move was announced on Thursday, hours after the all-time leading goalscorer for England and Manchester United sent out a photo of himself flying to the U.S. to complete the move.

In a statement on DCU’s website it was confirmed that Rooney, 32, will be playing in Washington until at least the fall of 2021 after signing a three-and-a-half-year deal.

“This is a seminal moment for our fans and organization,” said United Managing General Partner and CEO Jason Levien. “Wayne is a global soccer icon and his presence at D.C. United will elevate our product on the pitch and soccer as a whole in our city and in this country. Wayne has thrived when competing at the most elite levels of soccer and we’re thrilled to have his leadership as we enter this new era at Audi Field.”

Speaking about his move to MLS, Rooney is delighted to get the chance to lead DCU into a new era.

“It is fantastic to be joining D.C. United at such an exciting time in the club’s history with the new stadium opening in just a few weeks,” Rooney said. “Moving to America and MLS fulfills another career ambition for me. I have the hunger to be a success here and will give D.C. 100 percent – as I have always done for every team I have ever played for.”

Rooney’s MLS debut is expected to be on July 14 against the Vancouver Whitecaps at D.C. United’s new 20,000 capacity, $180 million home at Audi Field.

Although DCU are bottom of the Eastern Conference, they have 15 of their remaining 22 games at home in 2018 and Ben Olsen’s boys are expected to make a surge up the standings in the second half of the season.

D.C. United announced the deal in the following fashion.