Reborn in the USA - How Wayne Rooney has reignited his career at DC United

Rooney looked set to retire at boyhood club Everton before making a swift transfer to DC United

Signed from Everton in 2004, Wayne Rooney was an instant hit at Manchester United, scoring over 250 goals and eventually being crowned as the club's all-time top goalscorer. He was similarly influential for England, finding his way into the record books for them as the Three Lions' all-time top goalscorer. With such an eye for goal, it made him a difficult man to face for the most-part of his playing days, but it also showed his age when his record for scoring began to slow.

Despite attempting to get back to his usually prolific ways and even being made to drop deeper into midfield with a view to playing as a potentially more dangerous attacking midfielder, Rooney returned to Everton in 2017. It looked like it would be the place where he would see out his career - especially with such significant ties to Goodison Park since childhood - but after scoring ten goals in his returning term at Everton, he decided to move to the MLS the following summer.

The move appeared to come out of nowhere and there were a lot of critics who saw it as being a way of winding down his career, especially with the current reputation in the MLS for being controversially seen as a retirement home for former greats. Although he faced some criticism for supposedly 'giving up' in leaving the Premier League, his determination has shone through in attempting to improve the fortunes of lowly DC United.

Wayne Rooney Everton Manchester United Old Trafford Premier League
Despite scoring ten goals in his first season back at Everton, Rooney clearly had other plans, prompting his move to Washington.

Moving DC United from the bottom of the table to serious play-off contenders

When Rooney arrived at DC United in June, his new team had taken two wins and five draws from fourteen games, achieving just eleven points from a possible forty-two, and finding themselves stuck at the bottom of the table. He went through a shaky start to life as an MLS player, missing some moderately easy chances and applying fuel to the fire of critics who thought their negative comments over the former Manchester United striker's decline were being justified.

The poor form continued up until DC United's game against Colorado Rapids, where he slotted the winning goal past Tim Howard, who similarly to Rooney had previously played for both Manchester United and Everton. Since that point, Black and Red have found far stronger form, taking ten wins and three draws from seventeen games and securing thirty-three points from a possible fifty-one, as well as transforming the -6 goal difference from before he arrived to show a far more appetising +13.

Such a transformation has been enough to take the previously bottom place Eastern Conference side to sitting at sixth, where if they remain in the same position until the end of the season, they will make it to the play-offs. It's been an unforeseen turnaround and it's hard to praise many other figures at the club than Wayne Rooney, with his arrival forcing other members of the squad to finally reach their fullest potential. Head Coach Ben Olsen has gone as far as making Rooney club captain due to his incredible leadership at the club, as he's clearly leading by example at Audi Field.

Wayne Rooney DC United MLS
Rooney currently possesses a record of nine goals and six assists in seventeen appearances for DC United.

The future looks brighter than ever before at Audi Field

Being rewarded with silverware back in 2013, where they won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, any hopes of DC United being anywhere near as successful in future years were all but dead. Wayne Rooney has completely reignited their chances of at least sealing a place in the play-offs, which was a mere fantasy before the former England captain stepped into the fold.

Past years have seen loads of former footballing heroes moving to the MLS in order to play out their final days before inevitably retiring, and it's been especially underwhelming for players like Andrea Pirlo, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Frank Lampard, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Steven Gerrard, Kaka, Nigel de Jong and the aforementioned Tim Howard, who were all clearly past their best as soon as they began their careers in America. This was an indication that maybe a lot of negative football fans should give the MLS more credit for being a far harder challenge than it looks on paper, as it's clearly shown-up even some of the world's elite when they transferred across the pond.

There have been far more exciting success stories for Bradley Wright-Phillips, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Villa, Sebastian Giovinco, Ashley Cole, Liam Ridgewell, Romain Alessandrini, Thierry Henry, Kevin Doyle, Johnny Russell, Giovanni dos Santos and Carlos Vela, who've all thrived through playing in America. While all of these players set their stamp on the MLS, it's fair to say that Wayne Rooney faced a far larger challenge in Washington, making it far more impressive in the way he's turned a bottom place side into a frightening team to go up against.

Wayne Rooney MLS DC United
Whether it's down to regained confidence or a new project to work towards, Wayne Rooney looks more like the leader he once was.

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