After his summer arrival coincided with D.C. United's rise from the Eastern Conference basement to a fourth-place regular season finish, Wayne Rooney was understandably the Black-and-Red's nominee for the Landon Donovan Most Valuable Player Award.
However, some around Potomac Avenue believed Argentine playmaker Luciano Acosta should've also gotten a shout. And perhaps Rooney is among them.
Speaking to the folks at ESPN FC ahead of MLS Media Day in Los Angeles, Rooney pushed back against the notion he single-handedly turned D.C.'s fortunes around. He particularly pointed out his diminutive No. 10 teammate, who finished 2018 with 10 goals and 17 assists.
"A lot of people say I come in and I done well to turn the team around," said Rooney, who finished with 12 goals and seven assists in 20 MLS appearances in 2018. "But for me, Luciano Acosta was incredible. It was a joy to play with him. And I think he was a massive reason why we done so well, also."
It's hardly the first time Rooney has praised Acosta, a player he as likened to former Manchester United teammate Carlos Tevez. There was even that goal against New York City FC that left even Rooney himself in amazement. And the respect is more than mutual, with Acosta christening his new famous teammate with his MLS nickname, Señor Wayne, after the play D.C. fans simply call "The Tackle."
Rooney also revealed one detail of his early discussions with D.C. and coach Ben Olsen that helped ease the transition from when he made his debut at the Audi Field opener on July 14.
"I’ve played more of a midfield role, toward the end at Manchester United, and at Everton last season I started as a striker and then played a bit deeper," Rooney said. "I think when I spoke to Ben, he said I want you as me No. 9, so straight away that put me, 'I’m not playing as a midfield role.' Obviously I could come back at times, but I knew what me role was."