DC United is a team on cloud nine these days. DC United has entered the playoff position for the first time this MLS season. Their victory against FC Dallas ensured that they comfortably sit on 6th position with a game still in hand. Former Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has spearheaded their rags to riches story.
While critics and fans had dusted Rooney off after a mediocre spell with his boyhood club Everton, Rooney seemed to have other plans with an MLS spell. DC United who were sitting in the last position before Rooney’s arrival in June have and going by the current news it’s a spectacular turn around for the club. Having just won 2 out of their first 12 games, the team has turned it around by being unbeaten since August and have won their last 3 games.
Going by stats it might not be apparent that Rooney has been the biggest factor to this turnaround and he might actually not even be, considering brilliant performances put in by goalkeeper Hamid and midfielder Canouse week in week out; albeit what he contributes to the team is chance to play a possession-based football. Previously, the team were dependent on a striker who was a poacher and a target man. This conflicted with the teams play style as he was unable to build up the play from deep. Further, due to team’s lacklustre performances, he wasn’t even getting the balls to net one in. Rooney’s vast skill set becomes particularly handy here. DC United played a formation of 4-1-4-1 before Rooney came on, the team has since switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation with a double pivot. Winger Luciano Acosta too has switched from a winger to an attacking midfielder and since has been phenomenal on the pitch. His linking with Rooney has helped to unlock defences of even the best teams.
Rooney might have started as a striker, but he has always been a thorough team player and has continuously displayed brilliance on the pitch while accommodating other egoistic attackers. Even when he was out of form during his final seasons at Manchester United, Rooney was not shy to switch up positions to contribute towards his team. He has played as a winger, attacking midfielder, a box to box midfielder, and on occasion also a defensive midfielder. This has helped the 32-year old become really good with a ball on his feet, not only does he score goals but also knows how to pass it around. Since coming to DC United Rooney has scored 9 goals and provided 6 assists. Even in their latest victory, Rooney was the only scorer with a free kick in 86th minute.
While Rooney might not be playing up to the level fans across the globe expect him to, he still is doing pretty well for himself considering all the ‘done and dusted’ tag surrounding him. This might be a slow revival for the former England striker and honestly, it could not have come at a more crucial time. After all, October is as good a time as any for the ‘dead’ to wake up.
By Srinivas Venkat