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Rooney on the bench for DCU, Audi Field debut

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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.

8 players score, plus an OG, in Everton’s 22-0 preseason rout

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Marco Silva took charge of his first preseason game as Everton manager on Saturday, and it’s practically impossible to imagine how it could have gone any better.

[ MORE: Hazard hints at Chelsea exit, has “preferred destination” in mind ]

A 23-0 victory would have been more impressive, but only marginally more so than the 22-0 that Silva’s Toffees actually achieved against Austrian fifth-division side ATV Irdning. Kevin Mirallas, who came off the bench at halftime, scored five goals himself, and the scoreboard on the club’s stream essentially ran out of room before the halftime whistle.

Cenk Tosun and Oumar Niasse‘s tallies were only slightly less gaudy, as the Turkish and Senegalese internationals each bagged hauls of four. Ademola Lookman‘s hat trick appears paltry in comparison, as does the brace of Nikola Vlasic and the individual tallies of Leighton Baines and Mason Holgate. And Irdning own goal completes the scoring at 22.

[ MORE: Chelsea reveal new manager Sarri, midfielder Jorginho ]

Everton will take on League Two side Bury on Wednesday, at which point they’re (presumably) expected to get some vital preseason work in, and to be held under the 20-goal mark.

Belgium tops England to finish third at World Cup

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Belgium topped England, 2-0, in Saturday’s third-place match in Saint Petersburg behind goals from Thomas Meunier and Eden Hazard.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

The finish for Belgium marks their best-ever performance at a World Cup, after having previously finished fourth in 1986.

It took just four minutes for the Red Devils to go out in front, and a quick attack led by Romelu Lukaku guided Roberto Martinez’s side into the lead.

The Manchester United striker picked out a brilliant through ball to Nacer Chadli down the wing, before playing in a timely cross to Meunier, who slid in for the finish past England keeper Jordan Pickford.

Eden Hazard capped off the victory for the Belgians with a near-post strike in the 83rd minute to ensure his side’s third-place finish.

The early finish brought a bit of life out of the Three Lions, who began to create a number of quality chances of their own.

Harry Kane nearly equalized in the 23rd minute when Raheem Sterling picked out the Tottenham striker, however, his shot missed just wide of the goal.

The Three Lions had their best chance of the match with 20 minutes remaining in the match as Eric Dier found himself in on goal, but his chip past Thibaut Courtois was cleared off the line by Spurs teammate Toby Alderweireld.

Video: Meunier gets Belgium off and running early

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A sliding finish from the Paris Saint-Germain man has given the Red Devils the lead over England after just four minutes.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Belgium conducted a attacker to perfection when Romelu Lukaku found Nacer Chadli down the left wing following an England turnover.

Chadli’s cross into the run of Thomas Meunier was also timely, with the Paris Saint-Germain player sliding in to push the ball past goalkeeper Jordan Pickford for the 1-0 lead.

Walker: Southgate ‘backbone of this team; man’s a gentleman’

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Oh, the difference 24 months can make.

[ MORE: Deschamps: EURO heartbreak drives France to World Cup final ]

The entire footballing world could infer pretty safely that the vibe surrounding the England camp had changed massively between the time the Three Lions were eliminated from the 2016 European Championship — at the hands of Iceland — and Wednesday, when Gareth Southgate‘s side was defeated by Croatia in the semifinal of the 2018 World Cup.

Following Wednesday’s heartbreaking failure, Kyle Walker, who was in the squad and on the field when the full-time whistle blew and England were effectively embarrassed after losing in such hopeless fashion, spoke passionately of the 180-degree turnaround in terms of belief and support that he has witnessed over two years, and that he felt in the moments immediately following the end of extra time — quotes from the Guardian:

“I was there in France, in the Iceland game, and it was completely different to that. For them to still be singing when we’re seeing friends and families, chanting our names and singing the manager’s name, is completely different. And I think we need to take full credit for that because we’ve changed that.

“I think the football has brought the nation together, people are going to pubs and celebrating, and that’s what football should be about. It’s enjoyable, we all love to play the game and fans love to support it. So it’s hats off to us. It’s unlucky we couldn’t bring it home for them, but hopefully there’s time in the future.”

“There’s nothing better, when people are writing you off and saying, ‘You’re not fit to wear the shirt,’ slagging people off, it’s kind of saying: ‘Well, there you go, have that back at you.’ But we do it for ourselves as well.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am to share the dressing room with these players. We’ve all grown up watching England, and to represent your country at a semifinal of a World Cup, there’s no better feeling.”

[ MORE: Mourinho: England needs to keep coaches for next World Cup ]

As for Southgate, to hear Walker tell it, there’s not a single person in the locker room that wouldn’t run through a brick wall for him.

“The man’s a gentleman. That’s the best way to describe him. He’s been in our shoes. He relates to us massively. He knows what to say at the right time. And he makes you feel like you’re the best player in the world. He gives you that confidence, and I think that he needs to take the most credit out of everyone of us.

“We’re the guys who are running on the pitch, but he’s the backbone of this team. He’s made sure that everyone has stuck together through good and bad moments, and made sure our feet stayed on the floor. I can’t put into words how much credit he deserves for this.

And to think, Southgate only wound up in the job — one he pretty openly and firmly stated he didn’t want — because Sam Allardyce incriminated himself in a newspaper sting operation after 67 days on the job.

Southgate was the England U-21 manager at the time. Fast-forward 22 months, and he’s a near-lock to receive a four-year contract and be tasked with leading his country through the upcoming EURO and World Cup cycles.