New coach bump: DC United latest to benefit as Wayne Rooney era begins

Wayne Rooney’s managerial era with D.C. United started in dramatic fashion via a 2-1 comeback victory over Orlando City SC on Sunday afternoon at Audi Field, the latest addition to the new-coach bump we’ve seen this season across MLS.

Stoppage-time goals from Chris Durkin and Taxi Fountas turned the game on its head, eliciting memories of Rooney’s heroics as a player back in 2018, when he made a historic recovery and assist to beat (of all teams) Orlando City.

D.C. United once again won their first game after a coaching change, having done so earlier this year under interim boss Chad Ashton. The result also mirrors wins pulled off by Charlotte FC and the San Jose Earthquakes earlier in 2022 under new bosses.

As the Rooney era begins, the big question will be whether he can turn things around for a team that's sitting last in the Eastern Conference standings.

Here’s a look at how each team fared in their “bump” games under new managers, as well as what followed or will follow in the games afterward.

  • Coach change: Chad Ashton exits as interim coach on July 29, Wayne Rooney takes over as head coach
  • First-game response: 2-1 win over Orlando City SC on July 31 at Audi Field

Rooney, who was announced as head coach for D.C. United on July 12, had to watch three league games and a friendly from afar as he waited for his work visa. Interim coach Chad Ashton oversaw the team until the paperwork was processed.

Fountas, who also scored when Ashton took over from Hernan Losada back on April 23, secured the comeback for Rooney’s side in the 95th minute, just four minutes after Durkin tied the match.

With his first game and first win now under his belt, Rooney will turn his attention to three matches against Eastern Conference foes: Charlotte FC (Aug. 3), New York Red Bulls (Aug. 6) and New England Revolution (Aug. 13).

  • Coach change: Miguel Angel Ramirez exits May 31, Christian Lattanzio named interim manager
  • First-game response: 2-0 home win over New York Red Bulls on June 11 at Bank of America Stadium

Lattanzio, a previous assistant under Ramirez, faced some unique challenges during his first match in charge relative to others assuming the interim MLS manager tag.

Charlotte were without several key contributors against RBNY, including Designated Player signings Karol Swiderski and Kamil Jozwiak to Poland's Nations League games and captain Christian Fuchs to a thigh injury.

But the expansion club responded with conviction, perhaps benefitting from the June international window creating an extended preparation period.

The first game following Losada’s dismissal coincided with Fountas' first start. The Designated Player answered with a first-half brace and an assist in D.C.’s win over the Revs.

Fountas has added nine more goals and two more assists since his arrival from Rapid Vienna. Despite his efforts, the Black-and-Red have taken only 12 points from 12 matches since beating New England (3W-6L-3D record), and sit in last place in the East.

Ashton was in his second stint as D.C.'s interim manager before Rooney's arrival, working as an assistant under Losada and previous coach Ben Olsen (2020 change).

The Quakes had some timing on their side in the first game of the Covelo era, mainly that they caught Seattle four days before Leg 1 of their historic Concacaf Champions League final series against Liga MX's Pumas UNAM.

But the Sounders still started many of their regulars and stormed to a 3-1 lead before the Quakes rallied for three goals inside the final half-hour. Cristian Espinoza completed the fight-back (and his only MLS career hat trick) from the spot in second-half stoppage time, earning MLS Player of the Week presented by Continental Tire honors for Week 8.

The match began a short period of improvement for San Jose, but they have since struggled, earning 20 points from 15 games under Covelo (5W-5L-5D record).

Covelo was previously the head coach for Earthquakes II in MLS NEXT Pro and worked in their academy.