- - Thursday, August 8, 2019

Wayne Rooney got out of a white van with some of his teammates and walked 20 feet to a metal bench, where players put on their cleats before practice at the RFK Stadium auxiliary field.

Rooney had a big smile and shared a few laughs Thursday with his D.C. United mates — who hope their dwindling time with the English star lasts deep into the fall.

Rooney announced earlier this week he is ending his stint with United early and heading back to his native England next year as a player-coach for Derby County.

“(Rooney) is still here and committed,” D.C. United defender Jalen Robinson said. “Everyone is ready to rock. We know what we need to do to get into the playoffs. There is not a lot of negativity going around. There is no reason to be down.”

United is 9-7-9 with 36 points and hosts the LA Galaxy (12-10-1, 37) at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Audi Field.



D.C. United was fourth in the Eastern Conference in matches through Wednesday, and the top 14 clubs in the 24-team MLS make the playoffs this year.

To ease the impact of Rooney’s impending departure, United acquired three players in recent days: midfielders Emmanuel Boateng and Felipe Martins and forward Ola Kamara.

“(Martins) has that fight,” Robinson said. “He definitely brings that to the team.”

Kamara is from Norway and had been playing in China, but he has MLS experience with Columbus and the LA Galaxy. He had 14 goals in 31 matches with the Galaxy last year and 34 goals in 59 games in two seasons with the Crew from 2016-17.

Martins was acquired in a trade with Vancouver and Boateng came over from the LA Galaxy.

“They are good additions, things we need right now,” said Robinson, who is from Catonsville, Maryland, and played in college at Wake Forest. “We have some good additions and everyone is positive.”

Last summer, Rooney joined United and spearheaded an amazing playoff run. The team went 7-0-3 in its last 10 matches to finish fourth in the conference, before losing in the first round of the playoffs to Columbus at home.

Rooney feels the team can make another playoff run.

“We have to improve,” Rooney said. “We have to get better.”

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