WASHINGTON — One more game.
Once more, D.C. United will take the pitch away from home before the opening of Audi Field in Washington, D.C. Once more, United will play in enemy territory before playing 15 of the next 20 matches at home. Once more, United will line up without its new superstar, Wayne Rooney, available for selection.
One game more.
United face long-time rival LA Galaxy Wednesday in what will be many forward attacking players’ final shot to prove themselves before the official addition of Rooney.
With half of the MLS regular season in the books, United has to climb out of a hole quickly. The club currently sits last in the league with a record of (2-7-4). The good news for United is it has mounted a recent scoring run.
“For us, it will work in our advantage,” midfielder Paul Arriola said. “I see us getting on a hot streak where we find our form and really make a push for the playoffs. With the amount of home games, we are not far off at all.”
United has scored one or more goals in its last seven games, totaling 15 goals. On the other side of that stat, United lost four of the seven games, only winning once.
Where: StubHub Center – Carson, Calif.
When: Wednesday, July 4 at 10:30pm ET
Watch: ESPN+, News Channel 8
Predicted Starting XI: David Ousted; Oneil Fisher, Frédéric Brillant, Steven Birnbaum, Joseph Mora; Chris Durkin, Zoltan Stieber, Paul Arriola, Luciano Acosta, Yamil Asad; Darren Mattocks
Rooney Rocks DC
United officially announced Wayne Rooney as a member of its squad on Monday, July 2, in a ceremony at the Newseum that brought coverage from across the pond to the nation’s capital.
“We’re a young team, and we need to improve, I think that’s clear to see,” Rooney said. “We have to improve and start getting better results. I think there is talent in the team, maybe with a little bit of guidance and a little bit of help, on and off of the pitch, I can help them, and they can help me.”
— D.C. United (@dcunited) July 3, 2018
Rooney wanted to join his teammates right away on their most recent road trip, but United’s technical and strength training staff recommended that the former Everton midfielder stay in D.C. to adjust to conditions in America. Rooney worked on conditioning in his own shortened MLS preseason.
With the big ticket name marked down, United’s next focus is improving an injured backline.
“I don’t know if we can get a bigger name than Wayne Rooney,”said D.C. United general managing partner and CEO Jason Levien. “We are one of the youngest teams in MLS right now, so we want to add more youth, more up-and-coming talent, but also some experience. You will see both of that when the summer transfer window opens.”
Rooney’s announcement and excitement came eight days before the secondary transfer window opens on July 10. In fact, fans cannot buy a D.C. United Rooney jersey until he officially signs next week. In that summer window, United needs to find help for its backline.
With Wayne Rooney deal done, D.C. United has turned attention to addressing outside back in summer window, via signing or trade. Kemp out for year, DeLeon knee injury, Odoi-Atsem sidelined. Unclear what else club is pursuing. #dcu #mls
— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) July 4, 2018
Looking at the past seven games, United put together a dismal record of (1-4-2). While the recent scoring streak is a positive, the downside is the 17 conceded goals and losing record on the road.
“Scoring goals on the road isn’t the issue, it’s the other part that needs to get better. We need to better understand the moments that matter in order to earn points,” coach Ben Olsen said after United’s loss to the New England Revolution. “We’re a young team, and we’re on the road for what seems like forever, but we are running out of excuses. We have to start getting points or else we won’t reach our goal, which is the postseason.”
Rooney will add a certain scoring prowess to the attack, but he cannot help United’s dwindling back line. Defenders Nick DeLeon, Kofi Opare and Joseph Mora are the most recent injured players at the outside back position. Defender Taylor Kemp was officially ruled out for the season after successful labrum surgery.
Mora traveled to LA with the team, while DeLeon and Opare stayed behind.