Wayne Rooney agrees to coach DC United

Former England superstar Wayne Rooney agreed to a contract with DC United to become head coach, reuniting him with the MLS club he played for in 2018 and 2019, people in the organization said on Sunday.

Rooney arrived at Dulles International Airport from London on Sunday night and was greeted by staff Rory Molleda and Sam Legg. In a brief interview before he was driven away, the 36-year-old said he has “some things to sort out” with the contract, but looked forward to the “challenge” of coaching United, who lost Friday in Philadelphia, 7.0. equals an MLS record for scoring margin.

DC is 5-10-2 for 17 points, a draw with Chicago for the few in the 28-team league.

Team officials said they did not want to comment. Paul Stretford, Rooney’s longtime agent, did not travel with Rooney, but was expected to arrive in Washington this week.

Those close to the situation, who asked for anonymity to speak freely about the matter, said the sites are soon expected to conclude a multi-year deal worth at least $ 1 million a year, which will be the highest coaching salary in the club’s history.

Once the deal is complete and he gets a work permit, Rooney will take the reins from interim coach Chad Ashton, who replaced Hernán Losada six games into the season. Ashton will continue to coach the team until then. Ashton is then expected to return to the assistant role he has filled most of the last 15 years. Until he receives the permit, which usually takes two to three weeks, Rooney will work as a team consultant, one person said.

Ashton was informed of the coach’s decision over the weekend, and via a virtual team meeting on Sunday, the club’s officials told the players about Rooney’s impending arrival.

Rooney – a Manchester United legend and the greatest goal scorer in English national team history – retired in January 2021, shortly after being appointed coach of Derby County, an English team in the second flight. He retired last month after Derby, plagued by financial problems, was relegated to the third division.

Rooney plans to hire an assistant from English circles, one person said, and try to persuade European-based players he knows to sign with United during the transfer window – which is open until August 4 – or before the 2023 season.

Among the targets, that person said, is Uruguayan striker Luis Suárez, the 35-year-old former Liverpool, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid star who is a free agent. United has two open slot machines for designated players, the MLS rating for advanced acquisitions.

Since leaving United after the 2019 season, Rooney has been friendly with some DC players and team leaders, who have consulted with him several times about possible player signings.

United have not qualified for the playoffs since Rooney’s second year in the MLS. He had planned to play in Washington for at least one more season, but because his family was not comfortable living abroad, he and the club agreed to divorce. It is unclear when his wife and four children will join him here.

What also remained unclear on Sunday was whether United complied with MLS’s recruitment policy for diversity, which requires at least two non-white candidates among the finalists for technical staff positions. No other names have appeared in public.

The league grants exemptions under “mitigating circumstances.” United did not have to follow that policy when Ashton replaced Losada because they filled the job on a temporary basis.

An MLS spokesman said the league will provide an update on Monday.

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