The wait is almost over: We are just 9 days from #MLSisBack, the same number of days as the kit number D.C. United's Wayne Rooney wears.
The first half-season of Wayne Rooney's sojourn in the nation's capital couldn't realistically have gone much better. What does the Englishman have for an encore?
Rooney joined a D.C. United side treading water at the bottom of the Eastern Conference in 2018, with an almost-exclusively road schedule to start the season behind them as they awaited Audi Field's opening in July. Rooney made his debut from the bench as the club christened their new home with a 3-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps and the party didn't stop for the rest of the regular season.
By Decision Day, D.C. had not only made the improbable ascent above the playoff line but landed all the way up in fourth place in the East, good for a home playoff game. Along the way, Rooney racked up 12 goals and seven assists in just 20 appearances (18 starts).
On top of earning positive results, the Black-and-Red picked up points with panache.
At times, with Rooney and Lucho Acosta in full flow, United played some of the best soccer in the league. They could be unstoppable, beating both eventual conference champions Atlanta United and the Portland Timbers amid their run. They developed a flair for the dramatic, typified by Rooney's iconic tackle and half-field cross to Acosta's head for a stoppage-time winner over Orlando City.
Roll the tape!
Rooney has license to play as free a role as any lone center forward can imagine with D.C., with freedom to drift, drop deep and utilize his adept playmaking tendencies on top of his sterling finishing ability. Acosta fed off that creative carte blanche as well, with the pair linking up all over the attacking third to great effect.
With players underneath Rooney capable of scoring goals, a facet expected not to miss a beat with Acosta and Paul Arriola returning as well as Lucas Rodriguez being added, D.C. have one of the league's most feared attacks heading into 2019.
Rooney will have a full season to create, and is coming off a full offseason with rest, an abnormality for the 33-year-old. He joined United after his final English Premier League season with Everton ended last year and has often featured in summer international tournaments with England since bursting onto the global scene as a 16-year-old.
What will Rooney do across a full season with D.C. United in 2019?