WASHINGTON — The Major League Soccer Disciplinary Committee handed D.C. United captain Wayne Rooney a second game suspension for his red card received in the game Wednesday against New York Red Bulls. He will not travel with the team to Montreal for United’s game Saturday against the Impact.
“That is the decision they made and that is the decision that we have to live with,” coach Ben Olsen said Tuesday. “It is not ideal. I am glad we know now and can prepare for Montreal without him, but it doesn’t change the fact that we have a group that can go to Montreal and get the result we want.”
Rooney received the red card during United’s 2-1 loss to the Red Bulls on Aug. 21. The forward was disciplined for “violent conduct” against midfielder Cristian Cásseres, Jr. in the 21st minute when he put a forearm to the face of the Red Bulls player. The Englishman served his mandatory red card suspension Saturday during United’s 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Union before being handed the additional game suspension Tuesday.
United (10-10-9) is currently on a three-game losing streak as they slide down the Eastern Conference. Following the announcement that he would leave the team for Derby County after the season, Rooney has struggled to help his team on the field. He has played 98 minutes over the four games since the announcement. He missed United’s 2-1 win against LA Galaxy at home before starting in the team’s 1-0 loss to Vancouver on the road.
With the international break coming, Rooney will have gone almost four weeks without a single minute in league play. To compensate for the time off, training becomes crucial for Rooney. He will have an opportunity to play a competitive match Wednesday, Sept. 4 in an international friendly against Liga MX team Club Puebla.
“Puebla, he will see as many minutes as we can get him to push his minutes in fitness,” Olsen said. “It is important for him to now train extremely hard. There has been a lot going on in his world in the last month.”
Rooney will likely not go to United’s USL Championship Affiliate Loudoun United to get game minutes, Olsen said.
United currently sits fifth in the standings with five games left in the season. The team will need to rely on forward Ola Kamara in the absence of Rooney. Prior to this summer, Rooney had missed just one game with a red card suspension earlier this year.
“For him now to get these training sessions under his belt and try to get sustained fitness and even get fitter over the next three to four weeks is important,” Olsen said. “So when we do come out of this, he is ready to be at his best. And if he is not at his best, just like every other player on this field right now, we are in trouble.”