MLS

New D.C. United boss Rooney rejects 'disrespectful' MLS critics

By Sports Desk July 12, 2022

Wayne Rooney hit out at criticism of his move to the United States, after he was announced as D.C. United's new head coach on Tuesday.

Rooney had previously played for United in 2018 and 2019 before leaving the franchise to join Derby County as a player coach in the Championship.

The 36-year-old kept Derby up after taking over from Phillip Cocu as permanent manager in January 2021 but relegation still loomed, remarkably finishing seven points from safety after a 21-point deduction at the start of last season.

Rooney believes coming back to the MLS to coach is not a backward step, but moreover, that his time at Derby County prepared him for this role.

"I've seen a few articles, certainly back in England, on this being a possible backward step in my managerial career," he said.

"I really find that a bit disrespectful to this league. I feel the experience I've gained at Derby County over the past 18 months has been great for my development as a coach, as a manager.

"To come here back to the MLS, back to D.C. United, was an exciting challenge for me - something which I feel can develop me as a coach."

United face an uphill battle to make the MLS playoffs, sitting nine points from seventh-placed FC Cincinnati in the Eastern Conference, despite two games in hand.

The four-time MLS Cup winners have been without a head coach since April and interim Chad Ashton's tenure reached a nadir last weekend, following a 7-0 defeat to Philadelphia Union.

Ashton will remain in charge until Rooney receives his work visa, but Rooney believes he is more than suited for the task at hand.

"The team need to improve, I think that's obvious for everyone to see," he said. "I really think with my capabilities of developing young players - of course we're working hard to get a few new players in - we can really get this club to successful ways again.

"I'm an ambitious person. One day I want to manage at the top level, and this is part of that process in terms of coming here and trying to develop this club, trying to get success here, but also develop myself as a manager."

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    Australia head into their final Group D game knowing a win against Denmark will be enough to see them reach the round of 16 for just the second time in the nation's history. A draw would also be enough unless Tunisia beat defending champions France.

    Arnold was an assistant to Guus Hiddink 16 years ago and he understands the size of the prize on offer.

    He said: "That's the whole purpose. My whole goal is to put smiles on Australian faces. It's not about me, it's about the game in Australia.

    "If you're not Australian and you don't know, football is probably the fourth or fifth-main sport. To leave a legacy is huge and in 2006, what that generation did... these guys [the current squad] grew up watching them and they were their inspiration.

    "Even now at dinner, this generation talk about matching the achievements of 2006 but there is so much more to do."

    Midfielder Mathew Leckie added: "It's huge for the sport. I don't know how much it will impact young kids but when they watch it on television and see how big the World Cup is, they may decide to be a footballer rather than, say, an AFL player.

    "The World Cup and the Socceroos bring the country together. We can create something special but we haven't done anything yet, without a result on Wednesday it means nothing."

    Denmark also have plenty to play for at Al Janoub, a win would likely see them progress at Australia's expense and Arnold is certainly not getting ahead of himself.

    "They are a strong team, ranked 10 in the world, but the focus is on ourselves and making sure the players recover well and are ready to go," he said.

    "They have been a top team throughout Europe for a long time. We can only do so much worrying about them, the focus has to be on ourselves. They can play two systems, 3-4-3 or a 4-3-3, so we have to be ready for them tactically."

    Although a draw may be enough, the Socceroos will play to win the game, said Arnold, who joked throughout his press conference with 2006 goalkeeper-turned journalist Mark Schwarzer in the room.

    "One thing Hiddink did was go for the win," Arnold added. "That's what we are going to do. I've never coached to play for a draw. In 2006, we got one win and a draw, we want to go for it and get two wins.

    "It's not often you get to go to a World Cup, and I've been saying this to the boys, enjoy the ride. We've gone through some difficult periods over the last four years, through the pandemic, playing four games out of 20 at home...

    "It's all about the belief, the energy in the players. I feel relaxed and ready."

  • Depay fit to start alongside Gakpo for Netherlands against Qatar Depay fit to start alongside Gakpo for Netherlands against Qatar

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    The Barcelona forward was battling a hamstring injury heading into the tournament and was initially ruled out of the opener against Senegal, only to appear from the bench in a 2-0 win.

    Depay was a substitute again as Louis van Gaal's side drew with Ecuador, and the coach insisted ahead of the meeting with hosts Qatar he would be taking no risks.

    However, he said: "We're going to do anything and everything to progress to the next match."

    That has led to a recall for talisman Depay – a member of Van Gaal's 2014 World Cup squad in Brazil – who lines up alongside breakout star Cody Gakpo in attack.

    Gakpo was a chief beneficiary of Depay's absence, trusted to be the Netherlands' creative force behind a front two of Steven Bergwijn and Vincent Janssen.

    The PSV attacker, linked with Manchester United, was moved into the front line against Ecuador and now keeps his place there, linking up with Depay.

    Gakpo has scored two of the Oranje's three goals so far.

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    The protester who halted Portugal and Uruguay's Group H match at the World Cup has been released without charge.

    Mario Ferri entered the field five minutes into the second half at Lusail Stadium, forcing a temporary stoppage while security caught and ejected him.

    The Italian was carrying a rainblow flag and sported a shirt with the Superman logo alongside the messages "Save Ukraine" and "Respect for Iranian Women".

    Ferri confirmed on Tuesday that he had been released, and explained the reasoning behind his protest.

    "FIFA banned rainbow captain bands and human rights flags in the stands," he wrote on Instagram. "They blocked everyone but not me. We want a free world that respects all races and all ideas.

    "[This is] a message for Iran... where women are not respected. The world must change. We can do it together with strong gestures that come from the heart with courage.

    "Save Ukraine. I spent a month at the war in Kyiv as a volunteer and saw how much people are suffering.

    "Thank you for all the messages of love that I receive from the world. Breaking the rules if done for a good cause is never a crime."

    Ferri is a frequent pitch invader, having previously interrupted matches at South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014.

    Portugal went on to win Monday's encounter, sealing their spot in the last 16.

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