- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 28, 2018

English forward Wayne Rooney has officially signed with D.C. United after weeks of speculation that he would join Major League Soccer.

Rooney, 32, is the all-time leading goal-scorer for both Manchester United and the English national team. He leaves Premier League side Everton and becomes the latest European player to join Major League Soccer during the latter half of his career.

Rooney signed a 3½-year contract, according to the club, and can be added to the roster officially on July 10, when the international transfer window opens.



D.C. United’s first match at the new Audi Field, July 14, against the Vancouver Whitecaps, will be the first time Rooney is eligible to suit up for his new club.

“It is fantastic to be joining D.C. United at such an exciting time in the club’s history with the new stadium opening in just a few weeks,” Rooney said via the club’s press release. “Moving to America and MLS fulfills another career ambition for me. I have the hunger to be a success here and will give D.C. 100 percent — as I have always done for every team I have ever played for.”

The Washington Post reported that the contract was worth $13 million, with 2½ years guaranteed and a team option for the final year. 

Rooney immediately becomes the most famous and recognizable player in United’s history. Jason Levien, the club’s CEO and managing general partner, called it a “seminal moment for our fans and organization.”

“Wayne is a global soccer icon and his presence at D.C. United will elevate our product on the pitch and soccer as a whole in our city and in this country,” Levien wrote in a statement. “Wayne has thrived when competing at the most elite levels of soccer and we’re thrilled to have his leadership as we enter this new era at Audi Field.”

In coming to America, Rooney joins the cellar-dwellers of the MLS.

D.C. United is 2-6-4 with only 19 goals, one of the lowest totals in the league.

Rooney scored 11 goals across all competitions for Everton last season and might be the offensive spark the club needs.

The lack of success in 2018 aside, United is historically one of MLS’s top teams. They have won four MLS titles, second-most of any club.

“When I visited earlier this summer I was really impressed with everyone I met connected with the club, and of course the new Audi Field,” Rooney said. “Now I can’t wait to get on the pitch in a United shirt and join my new teammates to bring success to this club.”

The flirtation first began in May when Rooney visited club officials in Washington on a so-called “fact-finding mission.” He was rumored to be upset with Everton’s old manager, Sam Allardyce, toward the end of the Premier League season for subbing him out of a match early.

New Everton manager Marco Silva said he would not stand in the way of Rooney if he wanted to leave the club. Rooney played two stints for Everton, the club he supported as a boy.

 

Everton wished him well on social media:

Rooney flew into Dulles International Airport, landing at around 2 p.m. Thursday. The club organized a fan “welcome” for the star, and despite the short turnaround time for them to mobilize, one photographer estimated that more than 500 people greeted Rooney at the international arrivals terminal.

 

Rooney will give his first press conference with United on Mondayaccording to the Daily Star, a British paper.

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