If you’re living under a rock, you might not know that one of the greatest soccer players in the world is now playing in your own backyard. When Everton midfielder Wayne Rooney elected to sign with D.C. United of Major League Soccer, some thought it was career suicide for the aging superstar. It’s not the first time one of the world’s best players, in the twilight of their career, made the move to the United States, though the results are often less than successful – names like David Beckham, Andrea Pirlo, Steven Gerrard and Kaká. But Rooney, 32, is already leaving his mark in MLS and hoping to prove to the Premier League that he’s still an elite player, no matter what the country.
And, on Sunday night, Rooney proved his value to D.C. United, when he made the league’s most exciting play of the season, one that caused the home faithful to lose their respective minds. The last place club took on Orlando City S.C. and with game tied and time nearing the end, Rooney, on national television, showed the United States just how much talent he can still bring a club. It was stoppage time and D.C. United was awarded a corner kick, pulling its goaltender in an effort to apply a steady stream of pressure on Orlando – which only had 10 players – before the final whistle. However, things quickly went awry, as Orlando cleared the ball and moved the other way, with almost nothing stopping the team from scoring the go-ahead goal and bringing home the win.
Rooney had other plans, however, and pulled off something you’d see in FIFA ‘18.
— D.C. United (@dcunited) August 13, 2018
As the last line of defense, Rooney quickly sprinted back and made a textbook slide-tackle, leaving the opposing player on the grass – at which point he took the ball the other way. Covering about 40 yards with just three massive dribbles, Rooney spotted Luciano Acosta crashing the net and centered a beautiful ball to the midfielder, who heads it right past the opposing goaltender. Acosta went bananas, jumping into the crowd and the Washington fans obviously couldn’t believe what they had just witnessed. The goal came in the 96th minute and is about as close to a walk-off as you can see in soccer.
Perhaps it’s Rooney’s way of trying to keep up with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the 36-year-old superstar who also made the trip across the pond to play for the L.A. Galaxy this season. Either way, it was an amazing way to win a contest – the tackle, the dribbling, the cross, the header. If there’s a better play than that in MLS this season, we cannot wait to see it.