What Wayne Rooney told DC United teammates before fateful penalty shootout

His was the first of three penalty kicks that D.C. United failed to convert in a Knockout Round shootout loss to Columbus Crew SC at Audi Field.

And Wayne Rooney admits that his strike, which was stopped by Crew SC goalkeeper Zack Steffen, could have been better executed. 

“I knew [day before the match] -- if the game went to penalties -- where I was going to hit my penalty," Rooney said. "But he's [Zack Steffen] made a good save. I didn’t catch it as cleanly as I would’ve liked.”

It proved a frustrating playoff match for Rooney and his attacking partner Luciano Acosta, who did not combine often and were not as goal dangerous as in recent regular season games. The Englishman credits Crew SC's tactics:

“Sometimes in football, for myself and Luciano today we couldn’t get the clear-cut chances which we got in previous games," Rooney said. "That’s football. Credit to them [Crew SC]. They came in with a game plan.”

But the Englishman made it a point to strike a positive tone about the accomplishments of the club in 2018, as D.C. United ascended from the bottom of the Eastern Conference to a No. 4 seed.

“I said to the players [before the penalty kick shootout] ‘whatever happens, we can be proud of what we’ve achieved,’” Rooney said. “Because, really, we had no right to the make the playoffs. And to do that, we’ve brought belief back to the fans, back to the team, and we have to build on that now.”