CARSON, Calif. – Count Ashley Cole among those hoping to see Wayne Rooney playing in Major League Soccer.
The LA Galaxy captain, for a decade a teammate of Rooney's on England's national team -- and a rival even longer in the English Premier League -- said he'd like to match wits again with the 32-year-old forward.
“I think it's good,” Cole said following the Galaxy training session Wednesday morning at StubHub Center. “I think it shows the improvement of the league. Yeah, he's a little bit older, but to attract these kind of players is great for the league. ... I'm excited if he does come to play against him again.”
Rooney had “agreed in principle” to an MLS deal two weeks ago, according to reports in England, and the BBC reported that the trip was “understood to be a fact-finding mission.” He has another year on his contract with Everton.
Cole, 37, is in his third season as the Galaxy's left back. If Rooney makes the move, he'll be the fifth player from England's 2006 World Cup team to play in MLS. David Beckham and Steven Gerrard preceded Cole with LA, and Frank Lampard played for New York City FC.
Cole heard the forward was likely bound for D.C. United and said he'd “love him here” with the Galaxy and thinks Rooney would be a valuable pickup for any side.
“It's always different to the Premier League,” said Cole, who played in the EPL with Arsenal and Chelsea. “We're getting older when we leave [England for MLS], so he's not going to be the 18-year-old Wayne Rooney. But I think he's still got enough quality for this league.”
Rooney is England's all-time goals leader, with 53, and second only to Peter Shilton in caps, with 119 from 2003 through 2016. He played in three World Cups and three European Championships before retiring from the international game last August. He's also the top scorer for Manchester United, with 253 in all games. He spent 14 years with the Red Devils – he won five EPL, one F.A. Cup and three League Cup titles, plus UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and FIFA Club World Cup crowns – before returning to Everton, which he had joined at age 9 and debuted with the first team at 16.
Cole, whose Three Lions career ran from 2001 through 2014, also played in three World Cups, and alongside Rooney in 2006 and 2010.
MLS is importing younger talent than in previous eras, but several superstars in their later years have come to the league and done well, including David Villa, Robbie Keane, and Cole. What's most important is the commitment to the cause. Rooney would likely fit in well.
“When you look at the caliber of [big-name] players that have come, most of them have won [championships and cups] and understand that mentality of winning,” Cole said. “That never goes away. Not just me, but you see other players want to come and want to work for their team.”