Many were skeptical of Wayne Rooney when he arrived in Washington, D.C. after 16 seasons in the English Premier League. Many thought he represented a bygone MLS era. Many thought he was overpriced and over the hill.
And then Rooney showed up at D.C. United, and showed why so many of us were flat-out wrong. The greatest evidence yet was one of the most awe-inspiring individual plays you’ll see on a soccer field, anytime, anywhere.
With United and Orlando City tied 2-2 deep in stoppage time Sunday night – both teams drifting out of playoff contention, heading for a draw that helped neither – Rooney sprinted back to make a goal-saving tackle, then pinged a 60-yard cross-field ball to the back post. Luciano Acosta, all 5-foot-3 of him, rose to head home a winner:
Acosta went leaping into the Audi Field stands. The goal survived a VAR review. And Rooney … heck, he more or less justified his exorbitant salary once and for all in 15 glorious seconds.
Here’s a view from the crowd:
— Nate Christian (@TheRealNateC) August 13, 2018
D.C. United keeper David Ousted, inexplicably if not for the fact that United sits last in MLS’ Eastern Conference, was up for a corner in a tie game. When the corner was cleared, it appeared as if his decision had gifted Orlando two points.
Even Rooney thought, “What’s he doing?”
What was going through @WayneRooney's head on that game-winning play?
Hear from the captain after the game. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/L8B8ukeyak
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 13, 2018
But while his teammates watched, the 32-year-old Rooney – with more career accomplishments than all 10 of them combined – busted his behind to snuff out the Orlando break. Then he showed his class.
He’s been class ever since he arrived in the U.S. MLS history is dotted with expensive, aging stars who haven’t given maximum effort. Rooney, as evidenced by Sunday, is absolutely, positively not one of them. He’s panning out better than anybody could have expected.
Rooney’s play, naturally, had MLS fans everywhere going crazy:
Reaction to Rooney’s otherworldly play
That is the best ending to an MLS game ever
— Harrison Hamm (@harrisonhamm21) August 13, 2018
My goodness, Wayne Rooney. I was a doubter, but that shut me up. #DCvORL
— Jonathan Tannenwald (@thegoalkeeper) August 13, 2018
— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) August 13, 2018
Truly, honestly have goosebumps after what Wayne Rooney just did. Unbelievable heart to run down that ball. #DCU
— Pablo Maurer (@MLSist) August 13, 2018
I feel confident saying that in like the 200 years soccer has existed this has never happened before. https://t.co/bCK5GTkjiL
— Will Parchman (@WillParchman) August 13, 2018
Wayne Rooney just completed about the most badass sequence I’ve seen in soccer. Take. A. Bow.
— Roderick MacNeil (@rodmacneil) August 13, 2018
I think Wayne Rooney ran more in that 15-second, stoppage-time sequence than Steven Gerrard did in his entire MLS career
— Joel Petterson (@j_petter) August 13, 2018
That was his "Zlatan v LAFC" moment. Holy hell, that was wild.
— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) August 13, 2018
The goal probably shouldn’t have counted
Nobody wants to be a kill-joy after a play like that. But a moment of stupidity from Acosta, the eventual goalscorer, probably should have led to the goal being ruled out for offside:
This is 100% a foul from Acosta! In my opinion regardless of how awesome the goal was it should not be given. This foul clearly influenced what happened on the field.
— IAN PAUL JOY (@JOYPAULIAN) August 13, 2018
But that doesn’t dampen anything Rooney did in those 15 seconds. Incredible.
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