Wayne Rooney has been named D.C. United's 2018 team MVP, and is the club's 2018 Golden Boot winner, after leading the Black-and-Red from the basement of the Eastern Conference to the No. 4 spot and into the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs following his arrival in the District on June 28, 2018. The iconic forward joined United when they were in last place, then went on to score 12 goals and add seven assists in his first 20 Major League Soccer appearances, pushing United up the standings and into the postseason. Rooney was also named the club's captain, and his leadership on the field and in the locker room led the Black-and-Red toward one of the best late-season turnarounds of all time.
Rooney led the team with 12 goals, including three game-winning goals, and his seven assists tied him for third-most on the team. The forward increased his production rate each month, scoring once in July, twice in August, four times in September, and five times in October. His braces against Chicago on October 7 and NYCFC on October 21 secured both wins, and he converted the game-winning penalty kick against Toronto on October 17. The forward was also responsible for the unbelievable, game-winning assist to Luciano Acosta against Orlando on August 12, when the striker tracked back and tackled the Lions' attacker to prevent an open-net goal, dribbled back across midfield, and sent a long, curling cross to Acosta for the last-second win.
“The guy is a winner,” Olsen said simply of Rooney. “It's in his DNA. I think that translates and rubs off on some of these other guys. On both sides of the ball, his habits are great, and no one else can look at that and not follow his lead."
The forward was voted MLS Player of the Month for October, leading United to a 4-0-1 record in the final month of the regular season as they punched their postseason ticket. He was also voted MLS Player of the Week for Weeks 25 and 34. In Week 25, Rooney recorded back-to-back braces in United's 4-1 win over the Portland Timbers and 2-0 defeat of the New England Revolution. Rooney continued his goalscoring ways in Week 34, when he netted the game-winner over Toronto and tallied a brace against NYCFC.
Rooney's standout debut season in the District also earned him a spot on MLS' 2018 Best XI alongside teammate Luciano Acosta, and finalist nods for MLS' Newcomer of the Year award and Landon Donovan MVP award. The league's MVP will be announced in December.
"We needed somebody on the field that could take the reins, and I think Wayne has really helped out in that department," Olsen added. "He's a selfless winner and has come here to prove himself, even though he doesn't need to."
While Rooney's first season in the District was unforgettable, the forward has his eye set on accomplishing even more next season. Rooney will have a full preseason with the team—an invaluable opportunity to prepare for the 2019 campaign—and will suit up with the Black-and-Red for the entirety of 2019 and the first full season at Audi Field, giving United supporters plenty of reason for optimism as Rooney and his teammates strive to lead the Eastern Conference next year. A bonafide leader and proven goalscorer, Rooney's 2018 MVP season is a testament to his world-class skill and influence, but he's just getting started in the District.