How has Wayne Rooney dragged DC United into the MLS play-offs?

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A month after his arrival in the US capital, Wayne Rooney did this. DC United were rock bottom of the Eastern Conference and needed a hero.

Even for the keenest viewer of the Premier League, Rooney’s lung-busting run to save a certain goal – his keeper had gone up for a corner, was met with astonishment but huge admiration.

That tackle and assist against Orlando City in August became the catalyst for a run of just two losses in 14 games and a place in the MLS play-offs.

We take a look at just what the Wayne Rooney effect really means.

Goals

David Beckham, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Andrea Pirlo have all graced the league but none have made the striking impact the former Manchester United man has done.

Victory over New York City FC last weekend saw Rooney notch both his 11th and 12th goals of the season.

This has come in just 19 games for La Norte.

He suggested on a recent ‘Men in Blazers’ podcast that he could have bagged 20 goals if he remained as a striker in his second spell at Everton.

It looks like he won’t make the same mistake here, with the 20 goal mark not out of sight yet.

Integration and elevation

Arriving in the US with five Premier League titles to his name, some would expect Rooney to be a ‘big time Charlie’.

But he has been anything but in his first four months in Washington DC.

His team-mate Luciano Acosta revealed his admiration for this ‘extraordinary player’, and spoke to the US sports blog The Athlete about their ‘easy’ on-field partnership.

If his integration has been seamless then what he has done for the fate of this once-mighty club is majestic.

Success in the mid-nineties came and went. A 2004 MLS Cup win became an anomaly.

But Rooney has single-handedly helped to inject enthusiasm and hope both from the fans and inside the club that better times are ahead.

What next?

Rooney has been bullish in his appraisal that DC United are the form team coming into the business end of the campaign.

“I don’t think I have to explain to anyone what’s happened,” Rooney said post-match on Sunday.

“I think the people who care to see it will see we’re going with great momentum. It’s a great achievement to go from where we were to the playoffs.”

They finish the regular season against Bastian Schweinsteiger’s Chicago Fire.

There are many permutations that could see United qualify in fourth, fifth or sixth position. But one thing about heroes is they won’t go down without a fight.

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