WASHINGTON – As D.C. United’s subs began warming up behind the touchline shortly after halftime, the cheers rumbled down from the imposing banks of Audi Field’s south end at the prospect of Wayne Rooney’s approaching debut.
Eventually, there were chants from the southwest corner.
“We want Wayne, We want Wayne,” they said, the volume steadily and confidently growing, but still far from a roar.
All the while, the former England and Manchester United captain warmed up with the mannerisms of someone utterly unfazed and perhaps even unaware of the attention.
Don't be fooled though. He was listening.
“As they were chanting I was just as eager to go out on the pitch as they were to see me on the pitch,” Rooney said.
By the time his 58th-minute entrance arrived, cheers had grown to a volume that rivaled those to greet Yamil Asad's opening goal. And what followed were 32 minutes of the most complete attacking football D.C. have played all season.
“I thought we were very sharp in the second half, in particular when Wayne came on,” said D.C. coach Ben Olsen. “You saw what happened.”
Rooney’s one-touch return ball to Asad was a key part of a gorgeous four-pass move to unlock Vancouver’s defense, finished off by the first half of Paul Arriola’s brace.
Then came another intricate sequence between he, Luciano Acosta and Arriola again, who hammered a second finish in from distance to seal victory on the biggest night in some time at this storied club.
Only then did the star debutant let the crowd in on his emotions, pumping his arms in the direction of the supporters in the north end, in search of even more noise.
“It’s a great stadium, I think the stadium’s built for atmosphere,” Rooney said. “But at the end of the day we have to create the atmosphere on the pitch. We have to excite the fans. We can’t expect fans to come here and make noise if we’re not exciting them. It’s our job to excite them and if we do that the atmosphere will be great to be in.”