When Wayne Rooney upped sticks and left the Premier League for a fresh start in the Major Soccer League (MLS), there weren’t too many fans, critics or pundits who thought it was anything more than a last pay day for the former England striker.
After all, hadn’t Rooney, who burst on to the scene as a raw 17-year-old at Everton (scoring on his top-flight debut against Arsenal) been there, done it all and naturally, got the T-shirt, too? Well, it’s true — he had. He grabbed silverware galore after his switch to Manchester United from Goodison Park but he failed to impress on his return to the Toffees for a second spell and a move to DC United, In Washington, was soon on the cards.
But rather than treat the experience as a walk in the park with the added benefit of a great lifestyle and fantastic remuneration, Rooney has bust a gut in his efforts for his team. He has shown an exemplary work ethic, passion for the shirt and pride in his team-mates. Yes, he has been involved in one or two controversial disciplinary incidents but many see these lapses of judgement as an occupational hazard given that they occur at the height of professional sport.
But, it has to be said, Rooney in America has been one hell of a ride. And it continues. For the striker has added another world-class goal to his show reel and earned headlines around the globe for doing so, too. Rooney, who is now 33, grabbed a wondrous goal from his own half to help his side overcome the challenge of Orlando City – it was truly one to savour.
The former Three Lions skipped collected the ball 60-odd yards (perhaps more) from goal and saw City keeper Brian Rowe well off of his line before delivering a powerful shot that sailed over the custodian’s head and into the goal in the 10th minute of the encounter. The goal gave Rooney’s side a 1-0 win and the victory allowed DCU to position themselves in third place in the MLS Eastern Conference – on the same points as second-placed Montreal Impact, four points in front of Atlanta United and two points behind table-toppers Philadelphia Union.
And Rooney said of his strike:
“I spotted the keeper maybe a couple minutes before we scored and I’d seen that he was quite high. I knew if the ball fell to me near the halfway line, then the opportunity would be there for me to shoot it. He was probably a bit further out than normally because they were in possession of the ball, and it was through them losing it that it fell straight into my path. I knew immediately I was going to shoot it and, thankfully, I got it right.”
He got it right? An understatement if ever there was one!