Wayne Rooney will not take part in D.C. United's visit to Atlanta United on Sunday (4 pm ET | ESPN, TSN2), with head coach Ben Olsen excusing the star striker from the second leg of D.C.'s two-game road trip in order to rest and recuperate from "wear and tear" and an assortment of minor knocks.
Meanwhile ATLUTD star Pity Martinez was left out of the Five Stripes' starting lineup for the second straight game in the wake of the Argentine attacker's public disagreement with head coach Frank de Boer.
Details ... https://t.co/x6snISZUt5— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) July 21, 2019
As first reported by The Washington Post shortly before gametime on Sunday afternoon, Rooney has been cleared to join family members on vacation in his native England, and is expected to return to training in D.C. on Tuesday. In his place, the Black-and-Red rolled out a 3-4-2-1 shape with playmaker Lucho Acosta in a "false 9" role.
Though coach Ben Olsen declined to name any specific injury concerns, he framed it as a chance for the famously hard-working and durable Designated Player to head off possible complications as the MLS season enters its stretch run.
“There are some signs of wear and tear, some little niggling things,” Olsen told the Post's Steve Goff. “It’s just time to give him a mental and physical break. It’s that simple. It’s not something we want to push right now.
“He has played almost every game and trains every day,” Olsen added of Rooney. “He has been grinding along and just needs a physical break.”
On Atlanta's side, de Boer opted to start Brandon Vasquez in the spot that would otherwise likely be Pity's, on the right side of an attacking trident in what's nominally laid out as a 4-3-3 formation, though Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Doug Roberson noted on Twitter that he expects ATLUTD to play in a 3-5-2 in reality.
It's a 3-5-2. Again, don't pay much attention to the team's graphic. It can't make things fit— Doug Roberson (@DougRobersonAJC) July 21, 2019