Wayne Rooney is a name currently not so well known in the United States as it is elsewhere in the world. Upon doing a quick internet search, one might discover that he is the all-time top-scorer for both England and Manchester United. While that is certainly an exciting pair of stats to have attached to a new signing for any MLS club, it is very misguiding to anyone trying to find out what calibre of player is truly present. To get an understanding of the shoes that Rooney will be trying to fill, and to better compare his recent performances to what will be needed, we’ll look at the career of DC United all-time top-scorer and MLS legend, Jaime Moreno.
Moreno came in as the new #9 for a DC United side that were halfway through the inaugural MLS season in 1996 after former #9 Juan Berthy Suarez left to join Bolivian football club The Strongest. Moreno made thirteen appearances that season in all competitions, contributing to 8 goals, scoring four himself. In the ’97 season, Moreno made 25 appearances and scored 19 goals, chalking up eleven assists as well. He continued scoring goals for fun into the ’98 season, scoring 17 and assisting a further 14 in 3 appearances.
’99 saw a slight dip in his scoring, tallying only 15 goals and assisting 14. The dip continued over the next three seasons as he only managed to score 24 and assist 26 in 74 appearances across the ‘00, ‘01, and ‘02 seasons. Finding himself injury-stricken during the ’02 season, both Moreno and DC thought that a change of scenery might be of benefit to him, Thus, a trade to the New York MetroStars was arranged for the ’03 season.
During that season he didn’t perform well at all, scoring twice and providing no assists in what only ended up being eleven appearances. At the end of the season, he underwent surgery for herniated disks, what could have been a career-ending injury, and re-joined DC. His return season saw him find the net seven times and assist a further 14 goals, all this while wearing the #99. This because when he returned, he was also joined by DC’s new #9: Freddy Adu. During the next two seasons, Moreno played as a second-striker and playmaker behind Adu, scoring 27 goals and getting the assist on another 18 in 66 appearances across the two seasons. Adu’s performance was much less respectable, and he was shipped off to Real Salt Lake where he began his trek towards infamy.
Choosing not to bring in another player to wear the #9 jersey in the 2007 season, Moreno once again saw himself continue his role as a key player in the DC attack. Though at the age of 33, he wasn’t getting any younger, and he only made 23 appearances, contribution to thirteen goals (seven he scored himself). He had only made less starts in a season twice before: his first season in 1996 where he came in during the second half of the season, and the 2002 season where he was set upon by injuries. The ’08 season saw him make a slightly increased 25 appearances, while also contributing to 20 total goals, scoring ten of them himself. In 2009 he made 24 appearances and scored nine goals and chalked up 3 assists. With the 2010 season Moreno took a heavily reduced role, making 21 appearances but only eight of them being starts. He scored twice and provided no assists.
At the end of the 2010 season, DC declined Moreno’s contract option for another year and he participated in the MLS Re-Entry Draft. Upon not being selected, Moreno decided to hang up his boots and put an end to his illustrious career having made 329 regular season appearances, scoring 131 goals and making 102 assists. He was hired by DC as a youth coach in 2010 and has continued in various similar roles ever since.
June 28th, 2018: DC United formally announce the signing of Wayne Rooney from Everton.
Wayne Rooney came with a pedigree of success at the highest level of football. 670 club appearances (101 for Everton). 279 club goals (26 for Everton). 150 club assists (4 for Everton). He is without a doubt both England and Manchester United’s all-time top scorer. That said, Rooney is certainly past the calibre of play he used to be capable of. Injuries throughout his career have limited his mobility considerable, especially compared to his athletic prowess during his younger years. Not only that but his game awareness seems to have dipped greatly.
July 14th, 2018: Wayne Rooney makes his first appearance for DC, coming on for Darren Mattocks in the 58th minute of a 3-1 home win over the Vancouver Whitecaps. Rooney chalked up an assist in his 37 minutes of play.
July 21st, 2018: Wayne Rooney makes his first start for DC, though he is subbed off for Mattocks in the 66th minute as DC lose in Atlanta 3-1. Rooney neither scored nor assisted a goal.
July 28th, 2018: Wayne Rooney scores his first goal for DC in the 33rd minute of a 2-1 home win over the Colorado Rapids.
Since joining DC, Rooney has made a total of seven appearances (five starts). He has scored three goals and three assists. He has so far exhibited an increase in drive, even performing an incredible play to save the game and assist the game-winner during DC’s 3-2 home win over Orlando City SC. So far Rooney has not put the #9 for DC to shame, and their performances have definitely taken an upturn since he joined. We only have to look forward to his future with the club.