WASHINGTON, D.C. – After months of rumors and speculation, D.C. United confirmed their signing of English striker Wayne Rooney on June 28.
Rooney, 32, who spent last season with English Premier League side Everton F.C., is known for his goal-scoring abilities from his time with soccer powerhouse Manchester United F.C. and the England National Team. He was formally introduced as a member of the Black-and-Red during an introductory press conference on July 2 at the Newseum in Downtown Washington, D.C.
“This is really a seminal moment in our organization, and, we believe, for the District,” United’s Managing General Partner and CEO Jason Levien said.
The club said Rooney signed a three-and-a-half-year deal in a press release. The Washington Post reported that his contract is worth $13 million, making him the highest-paid player in United’s history.
Rooney will be eligible to play for his new team after the transfer window opens on July 10 and will likely play during United’s first regular season game at their new stadium, Audi Field, on July 14 according to General Manager & VP of Soccer Operations Dave Kasper.
Rumors of United’s pursuits of Rooney began last season before he signed with his hometown club Everton. He scored 10 goals for the Toffees, most of which came before January. Kasper confirmed that conversations for a move restarted in May and after Rooney toured the city and Audi Field, “he was all in.”
“I’ve been to places like Los Angeles. and New York and it’s too hectic, it’s like London,” Rooney said. “For me, I never fancied going to live in London. I need my own space to get away from things when I need to, and Washington seemed to give me that opportunity to do that.”
United officials confirmed the striker was willing to meet up with his new teammates during their current road trip but the decision was made to keep him local to work on his fitness. Rooney made 31 total appearances for Everton last season but has not played in a competitive match since playing 68 minutes against Huddersfield Town on April 28.
The striker worked out with players from the team’s youth academy and members of the University of Maryland Men’s soccer team.
United (2-7-5) currently sits at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with 11 points in 14 games played. An 85th minute equalizer by Jamaican striker Darren Mattocks earned the Black-and-Red a 2-2 draw at the Los Angeles Galaxy on July 4, ending an eight-game road trip on a positive note before playing 15 of their final 20 matches at their new home.
With more additions possibility coming in this or next season, Rooney, a former captain for his national team, will be entrusted to leading the squad and is excited to resurrect D.C. United as a formidable contender in MLS.
“I think there is talent in the team, maybe with a little bit of guidance and a little bit of help, on and off of the pitch, I can help them and they can help me,” Rooney said. “So, I am looking forward to it—a new challenge, a new culture, a new league to play in and new teammates. I’m excited for the first game, I can't wait to get started.”