Rooney continues to impress in first full season with United

IMAGE: Wayne Rooney PK v. RSL

It was a historic night for Wayne Rooney at Audi Field this past Saturday night, as the D.C. United captain's first MLS hat trick propelled the Black-and-Red to a 5-0 win over Real Salt Lake.

The match started with both teams taking their chances; while United were creating more promising attacking chances than their opponents, they still were not able to find the back of the net. That changed in the 34th minute when the referee consulted VAR and determined that Paul Arriola had been fouled in the area, giving a penalty kick to the Black-and-Red.

Rooney stepped up and didn’t blink, sending RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando the wrong way and sliding the ball into the back of the net for the first goal of the night - and his first of the 2019 MLS season. 

Less than 10 minutes later, Rooney added to his tally. Defender Leonardo Jara found himself in RSL's half and forced a turnover off defender Aaron Herrera. Jara then threaded a perfectly-timed ball into Rooney, who went on to chip the ball over Rimando to capture his first brace of the season. 
RSL went down to 10 men right before halftime after a high kick to the face of Luciano Acosta, giving the Black-and-Red a man-advantage that Rooney was able to take advantage in the 65th minute. After winning the ball and playing it forward to Acosta, midfielder Júnior Moreno made a darting run into the box and squared the ball to Rooney, who stretched to tap in his third goal of the night. He also added an assist to his historic night, sending in a corner that Lucas Rodríguez volleyed into the net for the Black-and-Red's fourth goal.

In his post-match comments, Rooney acknowledged his historic night, but was more focused on the team’s performance.

“To score a hat-trick is always great,” Rooney said. “I’m happy to score three, but I’m pleased for the team. It was a great victory for us.”

Rooney continues to impress in first full season with United -

While performances like this are special, Head Coach Ben Olsen said that he has complete faith that Rooney can continue to impress.

“I think he’s been doubted the last three years and he just continually does what he does. He’s done it since he’s been sixteen, he’s scored goals and played at a high level. I don’t know why that would change,” Olsen said. “It’s nice to have him. I think his teammates are excited that he’s here. It’s good that he got his goal. First goal is always good to get as a striker and he bagged a couple.”

Rooney is continuing to shine at the highest level, helping lead United to the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Even with just a few matches complete, the Black-and-Red are more confident than ever in the potential of this year.

D.C. United return to Audi Field on Saturday, April 6 at 3 PM against Carlos Vela and LAFC. To purchase tickets, click here.