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Wayne Rooney hired as new D.C. United head coach

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Wayne Rooney quickly became a fan favorite during his short playing spell with D.C. United and the Englishman has returned to the United States in a new role to hopefully turn the club’s misfortunes around.

Rooney was hired on Tuesday as the new head coach of D.C. United, the Eastern Conference club announced. The 36-year-old will take over for interim head coach Chad Ashton, who will remain in charge until Rooney has received his work visa.

“Wayne is a soccer legend and one of the most exciting and dynamic up-and-coming managers in our sport,” said Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan Co-Chairmen of D.C. United. “He’s 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 Major League Soccer 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.”

Rooney recently stepped down as manager of Derby County, where a difficult 18-month tenure ended in relegation from the English Championship last month. Derby fought to avoid relegation despite a 21-point penalty for violating EFL accounting rules, with Rooney earning plaudits for how he handled the club’s difficult circumstances.

The former Manchester United and England national team standout helped transform D.C. United into a contender during his two seasons as a player. Ben Olsen’s side reached the playoffs in both 2018 and 2019 with Rooney and Luciano Acosta leading the attack. Rooney scored 23 MLS goals in 48 appearances.

D.C. United sits in 13th place in the Eastern Conference and its -14 goal differential is the second-worst in MLS.

Comments

  1. even if you’re skeptical what he can do, or if it’s vaguely colonial, as i was pointing out on the christian ramirez thread, he got his gig in scotland because at the time aberdeen’s coach was a guy who used to coach atlanta2 and was the interim head for atlanta first team for a half season or so. he goes back home and they have 2 americans now. got fired, but particularly if they aren’t coaching man city and caught up in all that hooplah and elitism, it can help cross-pollinate just as good as leeds hiring marsch.

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  2. I want to see David Beckham coach Nashville, that would be a nice winning combo and give him like three DP slots plus HG talent.

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  3. Is Rooney not the oldest-looking 36-year-old you’ve ever seen? If you told me that dude in the pic was 56 I’d believe you.

    Still remains fascinating to me how much of England’s football royalty wants to come over here and be a part of MLS. For all that the Limeys like to peer down their noses at American “soccer” (sniff!) with the snobbiest of Eurosnob disdain, when it comes time to put their money where their mouth is they’re rather enthusiastic about grabbing seats at the MLS table when offered. Almost like they’re well-aware the league is growing like a weed and its trajectory is taking off like a rocket.

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    • Good points. It makes you wonder if Lampard may be following. I think one thing about a managerial job in MLS that a lot of people find appealing is that fact that because of salary caps, etc. you don’t have league dominance by a couple of teams year after year, after year. For example, unless a major billionaire buys the team, a team like Everton is unlikely to ever win the EPL. In MLS good coaching can make all the difference. I was always surprised that Atlanta was able to get someone like Tata Martino when they did. And compare how they have done since he left (granted some problems due to injuries).

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      • i would complicate your argument by saying that while it may seem superficially appealing to come coach in a salary cap league where your team in theory could be immediately competitive, the reality is that parity means every point is earned and you have to do your job well. vs some of these leagues like england where it takes a miracle for a team below a point in the table to take even a point off the much better funded, coached, staffed teams at the top of the table every year. you mention lampard but like if you can’t have chelsea’s roster in the top handful you are an incompetent doofus. setting aside perhaps SJ at the bottom or LAFC at the time, short list of good or bad teams like that, 90%+ of the league is within a fairly competitive bandwidth, anyone can win the games, and while you will be handed a competitive roster, you will also have to sing for your supper.

        for comparison, tata had multiple stints in intensely competitive conmebol, and before barca most of his club jobs were lesser name teams, where one has to earn anything they get. he has also won about everywhere he goes which is one of my identifiers. like bruce or bob bradley. you can hand them trash and in a season or so it will get sorted. proven team builders.

    • personally i think many of these “start early” young signings also finish early and break down. eg michael owen. fitness freak landon being an exception.

      your argument is less convincing if you think of it as a “colonial” exercise. they “have civilization” or “knowledge” to “teach us how to play.” so they can “slum down” — for a fee of course — but we are supposedly not ready to “join the elite.” (remember the pulisic/lampard stuff). the 2010 world cup tie should have ended this nonsense.

      we had owen coyle come here to houston and suck, as well as ade akinbiyi, and some players from mexico and spain. i think elite EPL have a couple layers of very expensive talent, paid for by foreign money usually, sitting atop many players worthy of our league. i think they have some excellent managers at the top and some absolute rubbish near the bottom. i think by the time we get down to relegated derby (from the championship to league one, bears reminding), even 21 points would get them to about 19th with hull. i think MLS is equivalent to championship ball and he coached a fairly mediocre-to-bad championship team. so i am skeptical. we shall see if he can offer anything. my one hope would be he’s former DC — not just your usual parachute artist here for a check — and might have some personal stake in fixing his former team. who just looked awful vs philly.

      i also think it’s a routine mistake these days to conflate former player with prepared coach. one can inform the other but sometimes good players’ knowledge base is more intuitive or personalized than something they can communicate or an average player can do. some of the best coaches were practice fodder but they absorb everything, have ideas that apply to teams as a whole, and can communicate them. some former players are just upset their players aren’t them.

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