Wayne Rooney’s talismanic influence is making a big impact at DC United

by Leo Nieboer

Many scratched their heads when Wayne Rooney joined the largely unknown MLS side DC United over the summer.

He had left Everton just a year after rejoining his boyhood club and looked set to descend into MLS obscurity at a side rooted to the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

At the very least, he could have joined former teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic at LA Galaxy, or perhaps David Villa at New York City.

But in a way that would not have been a very Rooney-like decision. The Englishman has always fought rather than glided through his career, wrestling with obstacles and overcoming them, seemingly relishing struggle at times.

He has done exactly that at DC United. In fact, his arrival has transformed the entire club.

When he joined in July the team was five points adrift at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. 13 games later, DC United find themselves two points off the playoff spots with a game in hand.

In that time, Rooney has scored four goals and registered six assists, one of which went viral: a dramatic challenge on the halfway line in injury time, with no keeper in the goal, followed by an inch-perfect ping into the box to win the game.

With Rooney in the side DC United have won seven times and drawn twice. Before he joined, they only managed one win from seven games.

His inclusion has not just improved their style of play and results. It has given DC United an identity, and put them firmly on the global map.

To see Rooney, miles past his peak, still playing a talismanic role is a testament to the unique influence he will always have on a football pitch.

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