Washington D.C. — The Wayne Rooney era in MLS is about to end.
D.C. United and Wayne Rooney will be splitting up after this season. There were reports that Rooney was close to leaving the club this summer, but he’s finishing out the season and helping D.C. earn a playoff spot instead. The club announced, officially, today that Rooney will return to England in January.
Rooney is heading to Derby County to serve as a player-coach in 2020. Derby County currently features in the EFL Championship, which is the second-tier of English soccer. However, according to a press release, Rooney said that right now his focus is on D.C. United and getting them into the playoffs.
“I remain fully focused on giving my all for the team for the rest of this season and repaying the support shown by the Black-and-Red faithful by hopefully delivering an MLS Cup to Audi Field,” Rooney said. “My time in Major League Soccer is something I will always be proud of. The supporters in the Screaming Eagles, Barra Brava and District Ultras have made my time in America so enjoyable.”
Rooney did admit that deciding to move home was a tough decision. However, in the end, the English legend said that family is everything to him and his own immediate family.
“… We make this change to be closer to the ones we love back in England,” Rooney said. “The opportunity to go back home and start the next step of my career in coaching was the factor that made my mind up. I would like to thank everyone at D.C. United for the incredible support my family and I have received over my two seasons at the club.”
— Derby County (@dcfcofficial) August 6, 2019
How D.C. United looks in MLS right now
D.C. United currently sits in fourth place in a tough Eastern Conference.
Right now, there’s only six points separating the first-place Philadelphia Union with D.C. United. Rooney’s side currently has 36 points in the standings. Last year, D.C. United fell to the Columbus Crew SC in the MLS Cup Playoffs first round. Should the season end today, D.C. would be punching their ticket back to the playoffs.
In a joint statement, Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien, who are D.C.’s co-chairmen, said that they understood the difficulty of Rooney’s situation. They said that accepting the deal for Rooney to move in January is best for all parties.
“Our main focus now is the 2019 MLS Season and ensuring we make a push towards the playoffs with the ultimate goal of bringing an MLS Cup back to the District,” they said. “Wayne is an exceptional leader and one of the most iconic players to play the game so we look forward to his continued contributions to the team this season.”
— B/R Football (@brfootball) August 6, 2019
Rooney and D.C. United have a few more regular season matches left before focusing all-in on the playoffs. This Sunday, Rooney will be available for selection against Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the L.A. Galaxy.
The match will air at 7:30 p.m. EST.