DC United’s faint play-off hopes were all but crushed in the first half of the defeat to Austin Wednesday, as head coach Wayne Rooney’s spell in charge moved one step closer to the end.
Rooney’s side suffered a 3-0 defeat on the road, leaving them staring down the table for another long off-season.
It’s still mathematically alive in the Eastern Conference play-off hunt, but with Wednesday night’s 3-0 disaster and more games played than any other team in the chase, even Rooney admitted it’s “almost a miracle” will be necessary to extend the season.
Will Bruin headed in Sebastian Driussi’s pass in the 11th minute for his first goal at the Q2 Stadium. Bruin scored twelve goals in eighteen games against DC United, including the play-offs. Only Bradley Wright-Phillips (12) has more against DC since Bruin joined the league in 2011.
Driussi made it 2-0 in the 21st. He was left wide open on the penalty spot and provided a calm finish for his 11th goal of the season.
Head coach Wayne Rooney’s spell in charge of DC United moved one step closer to its end
DC United’s faint play-off hopes were all but crushed in the first half of Wednesday’s defeat
Rooney’s team suffered a crushing 3-0 defeat to Austin on the road in the competition
Matt Hedges headed home Emiliano Rigoni’s corner in the 64th. It was Hedges’ first goal for Austin.
“I spoke to the players before the game about not giving up cheap goals,” Rooney said scathingly, via the Washington Post. ‘We did that with all three goals, but the goals in the first half were very poor. The first half wasn’t good enough. I could have taken eleven players off the field at halftime.’
Austin also defeated DC United 3-2 in only other encounter, despite trailing 2-0 in the 80th minute. It is the only time since the start of the 2019 season that a team has won after trailing by several goals in the 79th minute.
DC has played more games than any of the others vying for the final playoff spot in the East, and even with a win over New York City FC in this weekend’s final game it will have to rely on results elsewhere to avoid its almost certain fate jumped over Sunday or Oct. 21, when everyone else wraps up their regular season.
With the side’s chances of making the play-offs in jeopardy, this could mean Rooney’s last game in charge could come this weekend.
DC United take on New York City FC at home on Sunday, but if they fail to win and continue their season, this could be Rooney’s last game as head coach of the side.
The guaranteed part of Rooney’s contract in the US capital expires at the end of the season, with a mutual option for 2024.
“Wayne is frustrated. Everyone is frustrated,” goalkeeper Alex Bono said after Wednesday’s defeat. ‘Everyone is disappointed. At this point in the season, where everything is on edge and the pressure is increasing, these are the moments when you as a group have to go a step further.’
Matt Hedges celebrated after heading in an Emiliano Rigoni corner in the 64th
DC United forward Erik Hurtado (L) and Hedges battle for the ball during the second half
DC United goalkeeper Alex Bono admitted Rooney and the team were frustrated
The Manchester United legend recently hinted that his future at the club was in jeopardy when he revealed last month that he and DC United executives had yet to discuss his future.
“I’m a little disappointed and frustrated that there hasn’t been any contact for two months,” Rooney told Steven Goff of the Washington Post in September.
‘We asked about a new deal. We can sit down and talk about it. We haven’t heard anything back. Either way, I can handle it, whatever the situation is. I was hoping we would have talked about it anyway. That has not been the case.’
Rooney expressed his desire to remain at the club despite being away from his family, also telling The Washington Post: “We have asked to sit down and speak as planning for next season needs to continue. So we asked two months ago where everything stood: are we moving forward or not moving forward – if that’s the case from their point of view – and we haven’t heard back yet.
“That’s frustrating because anyway, I’d rather know what the plan is because we have to plan for next season. We need to do it sooner rather than later. The fact that we haven’t heard anything yet probably points to one thing, but I’m sure they’ll have their reasons for that. So I’ll just wait and see.’
He lives in the United States without his wife Colleen and their four sons, but Rooney insists it is manageable.
“Of course you miss the kids and your wife, but it’s been as good as it can be,” he said. ‘I’m settled here. The family is settled at home. It hasn’t been a problem at all.’
On Tuesday, the day before DC United’s match against Austin, Rooney’s ex-teammate and former Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was reportedly spotted visiting the MLS club’s facilities.
Rooney took charge midway through the 2022 season and launched a rebuild in the off-season
Solskjaer, who also played for Manchester United during his career, has been without a job since leaving his role at Old Trafford in 2021.
The Norwegian was present at DC United’s facilities in Leesburg, Virginia, on Tuesday, accompanied by a few employees, according to The Athletics.
Rooney, his staff and players were in Texas on Wednesday in preparation for the club’s match against Austin.
However, Solskjaer is not believed to be in the running to replace Rooney, nor is he a candidate for the vacant DC United managing director spot.
Solskjaer and Rooney played alongside each other for three years at Manchester United at the start of the latter’s on-pitch career and at the end of the former’s.
They won a Premier League title during their time together at Old Trafford in the 2006-07 season.
DC United are currently without a general manager after Lucy Rushton parted ways with the club at the end of the 2022 season.
Former Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was spotted visiting DC United
Rooney and Solskjaer played alongside each other at Manchester United from 2004 to 2007
According to The Athletic, the team has contacted Orlando City for permission to interview technical director Ricardo Moreira, but it is unknown whether DC’s hunt has been successful.
In the absence of a chief executive, Rooney has been given greater control over the club’s squad, while Dave Kasper, the club’s chairman of football operations and sporting director, has acted as interim chief executive.
The reported added that the club believes a decision on Rooney’s future in DC should not be made without input from the future GM.
The former England legend took charge midway through the 2022 season and launched a rebuild in the offseason after United finished rock bottom in the MLS.