Wayne Rooney

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Three things from MLS Saturday

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Chris Wondolowski’s 4-goal haul helped him set a new career standard in Major League Soccer, while Ethan Finlay haunted former club Columbus.

Aside from those wins for San Jose and Minnesota, what else did we find out on Saturday?

Houston stays hot while preparing for road-heavy stretch

Wilmer Cabrera’s Houston Dynamo have been sizzling at home — even for host-happy MLS — with a 6W-2T record to start the season boosting the club into fourth out West.

On Saturday, it was two-goal burst in two minutes that pushed Houston past Wayne Rooney‘s opener for DC United (Only Carlos Vela and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have more goals this season than Rooney).

USMNT-hopeful Memo Rodriguez scored the first of the two goals, while Tommy McNamara came off the bench for the second.

Houston plays four of its next five away from Texas, though the matches are forgiving enough. The lone home match is versus Sporting KC. Where will they sit come the start of July and a visit from the New York Red Bulls.

Croizet, Nemeth tomfoolery costs 10-man Sporting KC in stoppage time

Vancouver got a wild winner deep into stoppage time thanks to Derek Cornelius, but the match probably should’ve never gotten to that point.

Krisztian Nemeth took a red card for a studs-up tackle, but Sporting KC nearly navigated that mess.

Yohan Croizet is just as much at fault for the loss as Nemeth, as the midfielder tried to chip the keeper from 60 yards when he could’ve headed for the corner or just kept possession.

Instead, Vancouver’s Maxime Crepeau handled the effort and the ‘Caps broke the other way to pick up a point at Children’s Mercy Park.

Tired Seattle collects gritty point in possible Cup preview

Away and on a half-week’s rest as opposed to their hosts, Seattle earned a deserved point in its meeting with East-leading Philadelphia.

The Union out-attempted Seattle 20-6 and had goalkeeper Andre Blake back in the fold, but Stefan Frei and the Sounders held firm to pick up their 26th point. That’s second-best in MLS.

MLS early roundup: DC’s Rooney smashes free kick; NYCFC, Montreal win

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Three of five Wednesday matches in Major League Soccer are in the books, headlined by another fine goal from the Black-and-Red’s former Manchester United star.

[ RECAP: Man Utd 0-2 Man City ]


Columbus Crew 0-1 DC United

Wayne Rooney‘s zipped free kick was enough to give DC United a win in Columbus, which loses its third-straight match and fails to move ahead of its Wednesday visitors.

First place DC has a four-point edge on Toronto in the Eastern Conference, though the Black-and-Red have played three more matches.

The English forward hammered a waist-high shot past the outside of the wall despite Federico Higuain’s best efforts to get in the way, and it beat Zack Steffen inside the post.

Rooney now has five goals and two assists in eight matches this season.

New England Revolution 0-3 Montreal Impact

New England manager Brad Friedel would’ve been very happy with his goalkeeper and not much else, and then he would’ve changed his thoughts on Cody Cropper as well. Cropper was very busy against the Quebecois side well before 2017 Generation Adidas draft pick Shamit Shome scored his first MLS goal off a Cropper error.

Anthony Jackson-Hamel added an 85th minute goal to put the result to bed, and stroked a second in stoppage time to complete the score line.

New York City FC 1-0 Chicago Fire

A game with eight yellow cards saw just one goal, including a caution for goal scorer Valentin Castellanos. The Argentine midfielder slid onto a doorstep pass to complete a NYCFC counter attack in the win.

Rooney, Zlatan underline key role for global stars in MLS

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As much as Major League Soccer pushes towards a model of developing young talent either from North America or South America, the stunning individual displays of ageing superstars this weekend proved there is still a place for them in MLS.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage

There is still a place for the wondrous, flying flick of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s heel, the audacity of Wayne Rooney’s free kick and the beauty of Carlos Vela’s curler.

All three delivered stunning, memorable moments and their moments of brilliance were viewed all over the world. People in pubs in England will have smiled at Rooney’s free kick. There will have been a nod of appreciation in Paris for Zlatan’s flick. And in Mexico Vela’s hat trick, and stunning goal, will have raised eyebrows.

In a league still growing and far from reaching its potential, the role these superstars play is sometimes underrated within American soccer circles.

As much as we like to get behind playing philosophies and building solid, sustainable teams, sport is still an entertainment business. We remember moments and veteran stars know better than most how to provide them.

Look, bringing over stars from Europe doesn’t always work. Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Andrea Pirlo may be the first to tell you their time in MLS didn’t exactly go to plan.

But from Thierry Henry to David Beckham, and now Zlatan to Rooney, there is still a place for stars who scores goals and create memorable moments which will be shown across the world.

MLS, despite plenty saying otherwise, doesn’t need to lose that ability to attract superstars approaching the end of their careers. It needs to continue to embrace.

If anything, it now has a one-two punch situation. With young, exciting players coming through, MLS is now seen as a breeding ground for young talent as well as a final showground for experienced stars. Attracting Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and others to MLS should be a priority, as well as developing academies and providing minutes to homegrown talent.

As long as that continues to be the case, everyone wins. Especially MLS.

Rooney’s impossible free kick wins it for DCU in Orlando (video)

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It wasn’t the first time Wayne Rooney pulled off a nearly impossible feat since he came to MLS last summer, and it almost certainly won’t be the last time he does so either.

[ MORE: What did we learn in the Premier League? (video) ]

Just like his first bout of jaw-dropping MLS heroism (remember this?!), Rooney’s latest miracle sealed all three point for D.C. United, in a 2-1 win away to Orlando City SC on Sunday. It was the Black and Red’s first away win since May 19, 2018, a span of 11 games stretching back to well before Rooney’s arrival.

It wasn’t the game-saving tackle/60-yard assist we’ve come to know and expect from Rooney, but it was still a free kick scored from a spot on the field that shouldn’t ever be scored.

First things first, let’s note that goalkeeper Brian Rowe never moved his feet until it was too late, and he makes the easy catch if he gets a better any read on the ball whatsoever. Beyond that, we could do the typical “was he shooting or crossing?” debate, but that’s long since been played out. We could also argue over whether or not it should have been a foul, thus a free kick, in the first place, but Dom Dwyer clearly makes a wayward attempt to kick the ball, which if deemed dangerous by the referee can be whistled as a foul, per the Laws of the Game.

Instead, let’s take a second to appreciate the impact Rooney has had (14W-5D-4L) on DCU since his debut last July, and contrast that record with their record pre-Rooney (2W-5D-7L). This is what you call a superstar, and that was a “superstar call” given to Rooney by Armando Villarreal. This is how the sports world works.

[ MORE: Fate playing its part in Liverpool’s title challenge ]

Anyway, Steve Birnbaum bagged the opener after just six minutes, and though Orlando were the leading aggressors and out-shot DCU 16-4 (5-3 on target), Ben Olsen’s side found a way to hold on for dear life away from home — even after Dwyer’s goal in the 63rd (WATCH HERE) — and grind out three points.

That’s what championship-worthy teams do, and DCU are a championship-worthy team with Rooney at the helm.

MLS Preview: Rooney, D.C. United looking to keep pace atop East

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Major League Soccer closes out the month of March with a number of intriguing matchups, including a Cascadia Cup battle, a chance for FC Cincinnati to set a new MLS expansion record, and D.C. United hosting former teammate Nani and Orlando City.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

In addition, six teams remain unbeaten: Los Angeles FC, the Seattle Sounders, and the Houston Dynamo in the Western Conference and D.C. United, Toronto FC and New York City FC in the Eastern Conference.

Here’s a look at some of the top storylines for MLS Week 5:


Orlando City v. D.C. United — Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET

Wayne Rooney and D.C. United have quietly had a strong start to the 2019 MLS season. D.C. already has wins over both Atlanta United and Real Salt Lake, two playoff teams from a year ago, and comes into this weekend’s matchup with a week to rest. In addition to the seven goals scored in three games is the fact that D.C. United hasn’t allowed a single goal yet. Meanwhile, Orlando is coming off a confidence-building win on the road at the New York Red Bulls, with Sacha Kljestan scoring and Nani making his debut. Now returning home, Orlando City is looking to record another victory and end D.C. United’s unbeaten start.


Columbus Crew v. Atlanta United — Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET

Coming off a bye week, Atlanta United looks to secure it’s first win of the season with a trip to the Columbus Crew. It’s been a rough start to the season for Atlanta United, with struggles in both MLS and earlier in CONCACAF Champions League play. Atlanta United has missed Miguel Almiron but perhaps even bigger, it’s missed manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino. New manager Frank De Boer hasn’t yet figured out his best team, but he may get a good chance to see that against Columbus.

Caleb Porter’s side suffered a surprising 3-0 defeat to the Philadelphia Union last week and starting goalkeeper Zack Steffan is recovering from an injury that kept him out of U.S. Men’s National Team camp. Perhaps it could be the first sign of cracks in a Crew side struggling for goals.

Vancouver Whitecaps v. Seattle Sounders — Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET

The Seattle Sounders are off to a strong start, but the Cascadia Cup can bring out the best in the underdog. Vancouver is winless, 0-3 to start the season while the Sounders are the opposite. Jordan Morris has made a successful recovery from injury while Raul Ruidiaz and Nicolas Lodeiro look as good as ever. In Vancouver, with all its offseason changes, it is taking time for their new signings to all gel together. However, Saturday’s game could set a fun new record. Whitecaps designated player In-Beom Hwang could face Sounders midfielder Kim Kee-Hee in what would be a high-profile dual between the two South Korean stars.

Full MLS Schedule (All Times Eastern)

Friday

Toronto FC v. New York City FC – 8 p.m.

Saturday

Chicago Fire v. New York Red Bulls – 1 p.m.

New England Revolution v. Minnesota United – 2 p.m.

Sporting KC v. Montreal Impact – 3 p.m.

San Jose Earthquakes v. LAFC – 3:30 p.m.

FC Cincinnati v. Philadelphia Union – 7:30 p.m.

Columbus Crew v. Atlanta United – 7:30 p.m.

Colorado Rapids v. Houston Dynamo – 9 p.m.

Real Salt Lake v. FC Dallas – 9 p.m.

Vancouver Whitecaps v. Seattle Sounders – 10 p.m.

Sunday

Orlando City v. D.C. United – 6 p.m.

LA Galaxy v. Portland Timbers – 9 p.m.