Washington (AFP) – Former England and Manchester United star Wayne Rooney was named on Tuesday as the new head coach of DC United and tasked with reviving the moribund Major League Soccer team.
It was a reunion for the 36-year-old British icon, who played for DC United from July 2018 to October 2019, scoring 25 goals in 52 appearances before leaving to serve as a player and coach at England’s Derby County.
Rooney resigned as coach of Derby County last month after the team’s relegation to League One, Englanf’s third-tier, opening the door to his MLS return.
“Wayne is a soccer legend and one of the most exciting and dynamic up-and-coming managers in our sport,” said United co-chairman Jason Levien.
“He has already proven in his young coaching career that he knows how to lead a group through adversity. He has an understanding of our league and what it takes to be successful in MLS thanks to his two-year stay with us as a player.
“The passion he showed while wearing Black-and-Red electrified our city and our club and we are so excited to welcome him back as our head coach.”
DC United, meanwhile, has struggled this season, firing coach Hernan Losada after six matches and replacing him with interim manager Chad Ashton.
United stands 5-10 with two drawn on 17 points, sharing last overall in the 28-team league. The club hasn’t reached the playoffs since Rooney helped it get there in 2019.
Philadelphis beat DC United 7-0 last week, matching the league record for the largest margin of defeat.
DC United’s next match is Wednesday at home against Columbus but Rooney awaits final visa paperwork before his official coaching role can begin. DC’s following match is Saturday at Minnesota.
“Wayne is a winner and a competitor. His work ethic and what he demands of himself and his players is second to none,” DC United president of soccer operations Dave Kasper said.
“Wayne’s approach to the game and the style of soccer he wants to play fits within our philosophy and we believe he is the right person to lead our club moving forward.”
Inter Miami head coach Phil Neville, a former England and Manchester United teammate of Rooney, says having played in MLS before will be an advantage for Rooney as a coach.
“He comes as one of the most iconic figures in English football… so that brings a level of expectation,” Neville said in reaction to reports of the deal.
“The boy has got that touch where he succeeds. The boy has got that hunger and desire to do everything it takes to be successful.”
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