He only had three starts with his new team but the Wayne Rooney effect is already flowing within DC United.
Ben Olsen’s squad came from behind to steal a point from the Montreal Impact in a 1-1 draw but it wasn’t the league’s new designated player that was responsible for the result. It was in fact Yamil Asad who netted his ninth goal of the season, placing him atop the DC United goal scoring list.
But the young Argentine admits that his team has changed since Rooney’s arrival. In only a few weeks, the Englishman kickstarted the confidence of the Eastern conference’s bottom feeders.
“He changes everything. How the team acts on and off the field, the starters, people who come off the bench,” Asad told SBI Soccer through an interpreter. “I hope that under his leadership, we can learn and do as well as we can under him.”
Rooney, who felt disappointed about his team only getting a draw, has help reinstate a winning mentality within DC United. He himself also feels like he’s still got something to prove in the nation’s capital.
“I’m 32 years old I’m not 35, 36. I’m still fairly young, obviously I’m not in my mid-twenties but I’m still fairly young and I feel like I’ve got a lot to give,” Rooney said. “Of course [I would need] another couple of games to get my full match fitness but no I feel fine.”
Having played in central midfield for Manchester United and the England Men’s National Team, Rooney could also be an option at that position and allow Asad and Darren Mattocks play. However, using his new signing in the center of midfield is not something that has crossed Olsen’s mind.
“We all know Wayne has versatility in his game at this point in his career,” Olsen said. “We’ve played him as the nine and as the attacking midfielder but primarily we’ve brought him here to score goals and play the nine position.”
Having suffered through the beginning of the season without their new home, DC United now finds itself with a trolly of home games to play. Of their remaining 15 games, 12 will be played at Audi Field. The team will also enjoy a seven-game home stretch going from September 12 to October 21.
To top this off, DC United has at least three games in hand on all of its competitors. From the bottom of the conference, the team feels like they could have an upper hand if they play their cards right.
“If we maximize our points or get close to that at home, we’ll be in good shape and we’ll put ourselves in the mix,” Olsen said. “We just gotta keep moving forward, Wayne is certainly helping in a bunch of different areas but guys are also playing at a high level.
With Rooney’s leadership and goal scoring paired up with a favorable home stretch to the season, DC United has still got hope to pull off a playoff push.
“It’s a big advantage going to the rest of the year with a bunch of home games left,” said Asad. “The team’s in a good moment, we’re improving every day. We have a lot to improve on still but I feel good about the rest of the year and the chances we have.”