Former Machester United superstar Wayne Rooney is off to the MLS pasture, signing a three-year deal with DC United.
It’s unfair to call the current MLS a retirement home for European soccer stars. The league has finally started to gain traction now that a generation that grew up on soccer is coming of age, but there’s still work to be done.
Looking at the news that Wayne Rooney will be leaving the Premier League to join the MLS as a negative is a wrong way to look at it. Rooney, who was a superstar in Europe during the peak of his career, is coming to America as a 32-year old afterthought. He spent just one season with Everton after spending the bulk of his stardom with Manchester United and now moves to DC United on a three-year deal worth $10 million a season.
Rooney will make his debut on July 14th, coinciding with United’s first game at its new Audi Field Stadium home.
He’s not limping Stateside, however easy it is to see this move as such. Lest we forget that this year saw the debut of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the MLS — and what a debut it was. Rooney comes to an era in MLS history unlike any other, one that has some promise for the future. Prospects in the game now are better than they’ve ever been, and interest in American soccer is higher than ever.
This isn’t the MLS that David Beckham and others indeed used as a retirement home. This isn’t an MLS that acting as a Senior Tour, it’s a league of budding talent and fascination.
Perhaps Rooney will roll over the competition in his advanced age, like Zlatan, and make everyone look bad. But for the first time ever it looks like the MLS might be something, and Rooney acting as an usher is perfection. He was the Man U star that came after Beckham and is doing so again, perhaps this time with more success than ever before.