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Coming to America: Four implications of Rooney’s impending DC United move

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AFP PHOTO / Oli SCARFF

After 208 goals in 481 appearances for Everton and Manchester United, Wayne Rooney is moving off the English shores to the United States. The inevitability of the move was rife, there were mutterings before his return to boyhood club, Everton, but still it feels too early for the 32-year old to make the transatlantic move.

The manager of DC United, Ben Olsen, confirmed his team’s interest in Rooney and it does look almost certain that the former Manchester United forward will leave Everton after he bade his team-mates farewell.

The move to DC United in the MLS will have varying ramifications for the player, the League and the club. Here are four implications of the Rooney move.

Rooney could give DC United the needed boost competitively
With DC United at the bottom of the Eastern conference, they could use a good boost in quality to avoid relegation. Ben Olsen’s team lack genuine quality, caused by their reticence to spend big on star names like LA Galaxy, New York City FC and other top sides. Rooney’s arrival could galvanise the team, make it more competitive and perhaps later winning their first major trophy since 2004.

Attract more interest in the MLS
Wayne Rooney certainly still holds some appeal. That appeal could spark more interest in the MLS. The long play of the league is to cash in on the marketability of players in the twilight of their careers. Maybe to lesser extents compared to David Beckham, when he moved to LA Galaxy, but the television numbers will certainly be on the rise as eyes are keen on seeing the ex-Manchester United star. The effect of star power on a League cannot be understated, Neymar’s move to the Ligue 1 worked wonders on the TV numbers and the appeal of the League. To a lesser extent, Rooney should have such an effect.

Ibra-Rooney comparisons
Though Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were once team-mates, Rooney might find himself needing to match Ibrahimovic’s grand debut, as the new and all-important star in the MLS. After moving from United, Ibrahimovic scored a brace in his debut including a stupendous volley from about 45 yards. Both top strikers will be pitted against each other, ceaselessly compared to find out who the better player is. It will be interesting to see who comes out top when they face each other on the field.

Continue his legacy
If he eventually leaves, Rooney may not have gotten the perfect send-off from the Premier League he so dominated. His season with Everton was relatively successful, emerging as the Toffees leading scorer with double figures in goals but a reported falling out with Sam Allardyce—though he has denied this—seems to usher him out of the door from his boyhood club. Rooney remains the second highest goalscorer in the Premier League and the highest goalscorer for the England national team, feats that elevate him to a status of a legend.

Like David Villa has shown with NYCFC, the MLS isn’t the end of a legacy; the Spanish forward still got a nod of approval from the Spanish national team with a call-up that was extended to him last year. In fact, the MLS is said to be more gruelling with huge demands on the fitness of the players and lengthy travels to various match centres across the country. With Rooney retired from international, a call-up to the Three Lions won’t happen but at DC United in the MLS, Rooney could continue his legend.

 


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