Wayne Rooney is in search of his next gig after announcing Saturday that he’s leaving DC United after 18 months in charge of the MLS outfit.
The Black-and-Red’s quest to make the MLS Cup Playoffs ended Saturday night, and Rooney announced his exit from the club not long after the final whistle.
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“It’s the right time,” Rooney said after the game. “I’ve done everything I can to get this club into the playoffs. It’s not a single thing that’s happened. It’s about timing.”
“What lies ahead, I don’t know. I’ve seen a lot of reports in the media. I’m going back with nothing lined up. I want to say on record to everyone involved in the club. Staff, players: I’m grateful.”
DCU’s 40 points are still above the line but one of New York Red Bulls, Chicago Fire, Charlotte FC, or New York City FC will pass Rooney’s now-former club before the end of the season.
Wayne Rooney’s time in DC United
While DC United failed to reclaim MLS honors during Rooney’s time as a player and coach, he’ll go down as more than a big name doing time on the pitch and touch line.
The Manchester United and Everton hero spent two seasons at DCU before finishing his career with Derby County in the Championship. Rooney scored 25 goals and added 14 assists in 52 appearances across all competitions for the Black and Red.
He retired as a player at Derby County and managed the Rams before sliding into the DC United manager’s chair in July 2022 with the Black and Red in the midst of a terrible season.
DC won his debut but not much else the rest of the way, and his 2023 campaign saw the club improve but not make the playoffs despite Rooney’s sway helping to bring Christian Benteke — 14 goals in 31 games — and Mateusz Klich — 4 goals and 7 assists — to the club.
Good runs in April and July saw dour patches elsewhere, and there were too many draws down the stretch — DC finished 2W-2L-4T from Sept. 3 onward — to stay alive for the final playoff spot.
What’s next for Wayne Rooney?
Whether Wayne Rooney has the chops to become a top, top manager is yet to be seen given his tender age, but there’s no doubt the England legend has earned respect for taking on two situation with very little guaranteed reward.
Rooney’s shown dedication to his clubs with how he led — and stuck around — Derby County and DC United. Derby’s off-the-pitch struggles were historic and Rooney could’ve pulled the ripcord on several occasions.
So this isn’t like other former England legends from his generation cherry-picking spots with European contenders or not going into management altogether rather than risk their reps in a lesser situation.
Rooney will clearly be linked with any open Premier League job, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him land in a promising Championship situation, would it? He’ll have plenty of neutrals pulling for him after two admirable efforts outside the top flight.
DC United statement on Wayne Rooney’s departure
“We have spoken with Wayne and agreed it is best for us to part ways at this time. This decision creates the avenue for our next General Manager to have the full opportunity to impart a new philosophy and structure onto our sporting operations, which begins with the critical identification of a Head Coach who will best align with this,” said Jason Levien CEO and Co-Chairman of D.C. United. “We are grateful to Wayne Rooney for all he has done for our club and for soccer in the Nation’s Capital, first as a D.C. United player and captain and most recently as our coach. He remains an important part of the D.C. United family and a valued and cherished friend.”