'Señor Wayne' has D.C. United in playoff hunt

Ben Krimmel
October 12, 2018 - 3:50 pm

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

When Wayne Rooney made his MLS debut on Audi Field's opening night, D.C. United was suffering through one of their worst starts in club history.

Ben Olsen's nomadic squad who opened with 12 of 14 games on the road – had managed only two wins and just 11 points. A push for the playoffs seemed an impossible feat and Rooney's signing "smacked of a PR stunt by a club desperate for a big name with which to unveil their gleaming $400 million stadium."

Much has changed in three months. Rooney has tallied nine goals and seven assists in 16 matches and formed  a solid partnership with Argentine attacking midfielder Luciano Acosta, who has dubbed the 32-year-old from Liverpool, England "Señor Wayne,"  has scored eight of his nine goals since Rooney's arrival. All the while, D.C. United has taken to Audi Field like a fish to water; winning nine out of 12 home games.

"The atmosphere is unbelievable," goalkeeper Bill Hamid said. "The fan base is bringing it every game."

For Saturday's crucial game against FC Dallas, the top team in the Western Conference, D.C. United is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with “Noche Latina.”

With four games left in the season, United see themselves just two points behind Montreal Impact for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference after a 9-4-3 run since Rooney's arrival in July. 

"It’s hard to step back and enjoy this run because we have so much work to do," Olsen said. "Every time we get a big result, we exhale and then we’ve got to go do it again in a must-win game. That’s the bed we’ve made."

United control their own destiny, with two games in hand on Montreal they can clinch a playoff spot with three wins.

"We just have to keep pushing," Olsen said, "and we have another 'most important game of the season' next weekend. And that’s just kind of how it's going to roll for the rest of the year, and that’s okay. I trust our guys are up for it." 

"There is a different mentality," Olsen said. "It's simply a group mentality."

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