WASHINGTON, D.C. — Wayne Rooney is still a little sore from a scary collision during D.C. United’s last match, but said he’s ready to play Wednesday against the Chicago Fire. The collision happened in the 56th minute of a draw against the New England Revolution. Revs goalkeeper Matt Turner came out of his box in full force and ran into the 33-year-old Englishman.
“My shoulder and chest is still sore, but I will be OK to play the game,” Rooney said Tuesday. “You prefer not to have [injuries], obviously, but you understand when you play and you go on the pitch, there is a chance of getting injured.”
The collision Saturday wasn’t Rooney’s first gruesome-looking knock during his short time in MLS. Last July, Rooney recorded his first MLS goal against former Manchester United teammate Tim Howard. About an hour later, he was being treated for a broke and bloody nose.
“I am just not that surprised anymore. It is what you come to expect out of Wayne,” United coach Ben Olsen said about Rooney’s resilience after injury. “I would be way more shocked if he didn’t do what he did [against New England]. It was a pretty good shot, but he is also one tough SOB.”
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After a week on the road, D.C. United closes out the first half of the 2019 season with two games at home, starting Wednesday against the Chicago Fire.
“The only thing I will say that is a bit strange is the amount of away games you have,” forward Wayne Rooney said of Major League Soccer. “You will have three or four away games and then you’ll have three or four home games, which is a bit strange.”
United collected two points through three road games, from Toronto to Houston to New England, but Rooney wasn’t fully satisfied with the team’s performance.
“We need to play better,” Rooney said. “I think that is clear for everyone to see. The last three games, we haven’t picked enough points up. Thankfully, we are still in a good position in the league … These are really important games for us going into the halfway point of the season.”
United is currently atop the Eastern Conference, a point ahead of the Philadelphia Union with a game in hand. That said, the Western Conference is far outperforming the East. In 13 matches, Eastern Conference teams have lost 11 games and tied two against teams from the West. In the overall standings, United sits fourth.
Without midfielder Paul Arriola, due to an extended suspension from the Disciplinary Committee, United will have to get creative at his position again.
“Of course we miss Paul. He is a big piece of what we are doing here,” Olsen said. “A lot of ways, Ulises [Segura] is like-for-like positionally. He has the attributes we are asking in that position. I thought he did really well last game.”
Meanwhile, Arriola is set to return to United’s game-day roster against the Earthquakes, ahead of potentially joining the United States men’s national team for the 2019 Gold Cup.
“When Paul comes in San Jose, it will give us some fresh legs that will be needed for that weekend game,” Olsen said.
When: Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET
Where: Audi Field — Washington, D.C.
Streaming: FloSports or ESPN+