Wayne Rooney taking over as MLS's new free-kick king

Wayne Rooney - D.C. United - close up

Wayne Rooney’s former England and Manchester United teammate David Beckham is the one famed for his legendary free-kick prowess. But it might just be time to put something along the lines of “whip it like Wazza” on par with “bend it like Beckham.”

The D.C. United superstar netted another free-kick strike on Wednesday, curling the opening goal past Zack Steffen in Columbus, his fourth set-piece goal (you can watch all four above) in his 28 MLS matches to date since arriving in the league last July.

No one else in the league has scored more than one during that time – and while one of Rooney’s came from the penalty spot, another was one of the most spectacular goals of the season thus far, a daring near-Olimpico that proved the game-winner at Orlando City on March 31.

If he can keep up anything near this pace in the months and years ahead, Rooney could demolish the record for most free kicks scored in modern MLS history currently set by former Toronto FC star Sebastian Giovinco.

The Atomic Ant netted 14 free-kick goals in regular-season play for TFC, out of his 171 free-kick shots taken, a conversion rate of  just over 8%. With four free-kick goals on 14 free-kick shots taken, Rooney is currently running at 17%, more than twice Giovinco’s impressive rate.

That makes the Englishman the most dangerous restart expert in the league at present, and not just because of his eye for goal: All three of Rooney’s assists this season have also come off set-piece situations, with Rooney's service creating chances that were finished by Paul Arriola, Lucas Rodriguez and Steve Birnbaum.