D.C. United face Union without suspended star Rooney
Field Level Mediaon
Wayne Rooney's MLS farewell tour isn't going exactly as he'd hoped.
Since news broke two weeks ago that the star forward would be returning to England, Rooney has missed a match because of illness, was taken out in the second half of another and, on Wednesday, received a red card for a forearm to an opponent's head in the 24th minute of a 2-1 home loss to the New York Red Bulls.
That means D.C. United's leading scorer will be suspended for Saturday's match against the Philadelphia Union in Chester, Pa.
D.C. United (10-9-9, 39 points) is 1-4-1 in its past six games, scoring just four goals in that span. Rooney is pointless in those six games.
"We need to refocus," Rooney told The Washington Post. "For a lot of the games we've struggled to score goals or create the chances we want. That's something we need to try and improve rapidly going into this last run of games."
It won't be easy. Saturday's match opens a three-game trip that includes stops in Montreal and Portland.
"You can change the course of a season in a game," United coach Ben Olsen said. "I think that there's a group in there that can do it, but it's got to happen soon."
The Union (13-8-6, 45 points), who have been caught by defending MLS Cup champion Atlanta in the Eastern Conference standings, are opening a three-game homestand that includes matches against the conference leaders, Atlanta and Los Angeles FC.
Philadelphia had a two-game winning streak snapped with a 2-0 loss at Chicago last weekend, despite being a man up for the second half.
"We gave it away in the first half," Union midfielder Jamiro Monteiro said. "We lost in the first half because in the second half we had the ball more than them, but they were playing with 10 men behind the ball so we could not do a lot. In that moment, we need to be more creative, but I think we lost in the first half and gave stupid goals away."
D.C. and Philadelphia met Aug. 4 in the nation's capital, with the Union winning 5-1.