D.C. United boss Wayne Rooney has given up hope of turning Major League Soccer’s doormats into a playoff club after a 6-0 home drubbing.
The Manchester United and England national team legend returned to his former MLS club aiming for a revival similar to when he arrived as a player and lifted United into the post-season.
Rooney has no illusions about pulling that off though after watching his team get demolished by Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia on Saturday. United have one win and one draw from six matches since Rooney arrived.
“I knew the difficulties we’d have and where the season was,” Rooney said in an MLS website posting. “I think we felt if I could come in and get a run of form there’s a possibility of making playoffs.
“I think that’s gone. Let’s be realistic on that.”
At 6-16 with four drawn overall, United rank last in MLS and 12 points out of a playoff spot with eight matches remaining.
Rooney hopes for roster additions to help make DC United competitive before the 2023 campaign.
“The important thing is to build a squad who can compete,” Rooney said. “Of course we need more players. I know that. I think the owners know that. We have to keep trying to build and I have to keep trying to push these players from now ’til the end of the season to make sure we improve.
“And then I have to push the owners in January to get players in who can compete in this league.”
United landed midfielder Victor Pálsson from Bundesliga side Schalke and striker Christian Benteke from Premier League side Crystal Palace earlier this month, with Benteke yet to make his DC debut.
“There’s no way I’ll allow them to take the foot off the pedal,” Rooney said of his players. “From now until the end of the season we have to compete in every game.”
United said the Union’s four-goal second half was “not acceptable” and added, “every player in that second half was a complete stranger to what I’ve seen in training, what I’ve seen in previous games.”
“You can lose games of football. That can happen. But there’s a manner in how that happens.
“We spent a lot of time getting the team organized and in that second half I didn’t recognize my players.”