UPDATE (July 10) – It’s not yet official, but all signs point to Wayne Rooney becoming the next head coach at D.C. United, marking the English legend’s return to the MLS club he played for from 2018-19.
The 36-year-old was also spotted at Dulles International Airport on Sunday evening, and reports indicated contractual details were being finalized.
Rooney, who last led Derby County in the English Championship, would take over for interim manager Chad Ashton. Per Goff, Ashton would remain on staff as an assistant once Rooney secures his work permit and can lead the club. Ashton took over after Hernan Losada was dismissed in late April.
The Black-and-Red return to action on Wednesday night when hosting the Columbus Crew at Audi Field (8 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+).
ORIGINAL (July 9) – D.C. United have held talks with Wayne Rooney and his management group about becoming the Black-and-Red’s next head coach, leading to some mutual interest, according to an ESPN report and confirmed by a source to MLSsoccer.com.
Rooney, who played for D.C. United from 2018-19 before returning to his native England, was recently coaching Derby County. They were relegated from the Championship (second tier) to League One (third tier) amid a points deduction and financial woes, then the 36-year-old resigned in late June.
It leaves Rooney on the open market and D.C. searching for their next full-time head coach after parting ways with Argentine manager Hernan Losada in April, early into their 2022 season. Losada initially arrived in 2021 from Belgian top-flight side Beerschot after manager Ben Olsen was at the helm for a decade.
Longtime D.C. assistant Chad Ashton is currently their interim manager, a post he’s now held twice at the club. Results haven’t turned upstream, though, as the MLS originals sit 13th in the Eastern Conference table and are coming off a 7-0 loss at the Philadelphia Union on Friday evening.
When Ashton took over, the understanding was he’d marshal the group through the entire 2022 campaign. Though with Rooney and the club both interested, at least preliminarily, a different direction could arrive.
Rooney, should he come to MLS, would be the youngest manager in the league. He’d also be the fifth Englishman alongside Phil Neville (Inter Miami CF), Adrian Heath (Minnesota United FC), Gary Smith (Nashville SC) and Nick Cushing (New York City FC, interim)
Rooney’s introduction to D.C. four years ago linked up with Audi Field’s opening, a goal-filled tenure for the England national team legend after his time at Everton and Manchester United. The striker ultimately had 23 goals and 15 assists across 48 regular-season matches (45 starts), steering back-to-back Audi MLS Cup Playoffs appearances upon forming a dream partnership with now-FC Cincinnati midfielder Luciano Acosta.
D.C., holding a 5W-10L-2D record at their 2022 season’s halfway point, are in need of some similar magic. Perhaps Rooney, should talks progress, could instill that from the touchlines this go-around.