That's the question we posed to our panel this week, following the news that the English superstar had finalized his long-rumored move across the Atlantic. We won't try to gaze too far into the future, and instead will keep it to his immediate impact – how many goals will Wayne Rooney score this year? (For reference, Rooney will be eligible for 20 D.C. United regular-season games this in 2018, 15 of them at the team's brand-new Audi Field.)
We got answers from Senior Editor Nick Rosano, Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle, Senior Host and Producer Andrew Wiebe, former MLS player Bobby Warshaw, New Media Editor Ben Baer, national writer Sam Stejskal and contributor Charles Boehm.
How many goals will Wayne Rooney score for D.C. United in 2018?
BOEHM: I'll lean way towards the over and say nine, to match his new D.C. United jersey number. That's a very prolific strike rate for a player with limited time in which to power United into the playoffs, and reflects both their home-heavy stretch-run schedule and the variety of complementary pieces on their roster who can provide him service … but it won't be quite enough to get them to the postseason.
DOYLE: Tough question to answer because we don't know whether he's going to play as a center forward, as a second striker or as a sort of central attacking midfielder, which is where he played for Everton in the second half of this season. I think he's a No. 9 – that's what he's wearing – and if he lines up in that spot, I'm guessing somewhere around 10 goals sounds right.
If he lines up elsewhere, it'll be a smaller number.
ROSANO: I'll take the low number – six, if we're being exact. That's not to say he won't improve that offense significantly, but with Darren Mattocks on pace for a career year and the likes of Lucho Acosta and Yamil Asad around him, Rooney will not have to shoulder the scoring burden for his teammates.
STEJSKAL: Seven? That sound good? I'm going with seven.
WARSHAW: I think it'd be a mistake to think of Rooney's contribution as his number of goals. Yes, he can score, but at this best, Rooney bosses games. I suspect he will tally his share of goals due his ability around the box – similar to what Zlatan has done – but D.C. fans should care more about his general energy levels and sharpness in the 30 yards from midfield to the box. They need him to dictate games, not just finish chances.
WIEBE: I’ll go ahead and #Baerantee double digits, given the home games and PK responsibilities that will fall to Rooney. This is a guess, nothing more, but I’m going with 12 (three from the spot).