D.C. United has been a team in turmoil this season. After moving on from manager Hernan Losada only six games into the season, Chad Ashton was appointed as the interim coach for the remainder of the season. But after 12 matches in charge of the club, things couldn’t be going much worse for D.C. United.
Ashton’s tenure has seen the team go 3-6-2, picking up only 11 points. After— who had only scored seven goals in their previous eight matches — maybe it’s time for a rethink in the nation’s capital.
Without a coach who can set up their system, the constant chopping and changing of players doesn’t give anyone time to gain chemistry and even Taxiarchis Fountas hasn’t been able to bail out D.C. United. Since his arrival, Fountas has scored nine goals and assisted on three more in only 11 games but D.C. still hasn’t put it to good use. With the disappointment so far, whispers are beginning to swirl about who the next coach could be with a familiar name entering the fray.
According to the Washington Post, D.C. United has been in contact with Wayne Rooney for their open head coaching position. Rooney played two seasons in Washington from 2018 to 2019 scoring 23 goals and assisting on 15 more.
It was confirmed Sunday that Rooney will indeed become the newest manager of the team following his resignation at Derby County. Pablo Maurer confirms that the club and Rooney have agreed to terms for him to lead the team forward. He won’t be able to officially coach until his visa is sorted out. In late June, Rooney stepped down as the first team manager of Derby County leading to speculation about his future. The decision was met with disappointment from the joint administrators.
“The joint administrators are very disappointed that Wayne has taken the difficult decision to leave the club and we have spent some time today trying to persuade him to stay but understand his reasons for wanting to go. We are extremely grateful to him for his excellent work in the face of challenging on-field circumstances in the 2021-22 season and admire the manner in which he has led the team, the club and the local community through various off-field issues,” a spokesperson said on behalf of the administrators.
Along with the option of D.C. United, Rooney was also reportedly offered a Premier League job, so it makes sense why he wouldn’t want to continue dealing with the drawn-out sale of the club and needing to gain promotion from League One. The biggest question is whether Rooney would want to come back to Washington after his family wasn’t comfortable living abroad during his last spell with the team. Times have changed and Rooney has grown, but it’s still a transition from life in England.
That question has now been answered by Rooney’s touchdown at Dulles International Airport.
Before his move to the United States, Rooney was considered one of the best players in the world. He holds the record for most goals for the English national team and amassed 183 goals during his 13 years with Manchester United. Rooney also had two stints with Everton, the same club where he made his professional debut in 2002 at the age of 16.
Rooney left D.C. for Derby County as a player-coach in November 2020 and that is where Rooney got his first taste of a head coaching job. Rooney remained in charge through this past season when Derby were relegated to League One after beginning the season on -21 points.
Relegation would usually hurt a manager’s stock but the circumstances that Rooney steered the club through are nothing short of impressive. The team went into administration and was forced to sell some of its best players after breaching the English Football League’s spending rules. Despite that, Rooney led his team within seven points of safety.
Rooney is certainly the best option for leading D.C. United out of this spiral. He has already managed front office issues and kept his teams fighting hard despite having a long road to reach safety. This reunion would be just what D.C. needs. Speaking at Dulles, Rooney acknowledged that he has a few things to sort out but that he’s looking forward to the challenge, even after watching Friday’s loss.