The Washington Post

Rooney is set to debut as coach for United


Almost three weeks after being appointed as D.C. United’s coach, Wayne Rooney will make his MLS sideline debut Sunday afternoon at Audi Field.

Chad Ashton, United’s interim coach since late April, confirmed Friday that Rooney, an Englishman who played for the club in 2018-19, received his work visa and will oversee the match against Orlando City.

“He’ll be patrolling the sidelines this weekend,” Ashton said on the team’s weekly media call. “We’re looking forward to that. A little more normalcy involved” in the coaching setup.

Ashton, a two-time D.C. interim coach and 15-year assistant, will remain on Rooney’s staff. Since he signed a contract through the 2023 season (with a club-held option in 2024), Rooney has collaborat­ed with Ashton on lineup and formation decisions and interacted with players at the training grounds in Leesburg and before and after matches.

He has also worked closely with the front office on acquiring players before the league’s transfer and trade deadline Aug. 4.

While the visa was pending, Rooney was classified as a

consultant and not allowed to coach on game day. He watched home and away matches from the suite level with, among others, Pete Shuttlewor­th, his former assistant at English club Derby County who is joining the D.C. staff. Shuttlewor­th’s work visa applicatio­n is still being processed.

The rest of the staff is expected to remain the same: Ashton, Nicolás Frutos, Frédéric Brillant and goalkeeper­s coach Diego Restrepo.

United was 2-4-0 when it fired second-year coach Hernán Losada. Ashton had a 3-8-3 record.

Rooney will attempt to revive a club that sits last in MLS’S 28-team overall standings at 5-12-3 and is on pace to miss the playoffs for the third consecutiv­e year. United is winless in four straight and 1-7-3 since mid-may.

Rooney wasn’t the only one to gain employment clearance late this week. Former Derby County midfielder Ravel Morrison, an Englishman who represents Jamaica in internatio­nal circles, received his work visa and will be in uniform Sunday, Ashton said Friday.

Morrison — a former Manchester United prospect who is with his 13th club in 12 years — has not played since mid-june with Jamaica. He trained for about a week with United.

“I don’t know from a minute standpoint exactly what that will look like, but we’ll just try to get him out there and see exactly where he’s at with regards to fitness,” Ashton said. “He obviously knows [Rooney’s] system very well, so we’re excited to get him on the field.”

Goalkeeper David Ochoa, whom United acquired from Real Salt Lake on Thursday and introduced Friday, is expected to be in uniform Sunday. His contract expires this winter, but United will attempt to sign him to a longterm deal.

“We believe he has the ability to make an immediate impact for us this season and someone who we consider a viable option for us longer term,” president of soccer operations Dave Kasper said in a statement.

Morrison and Ochoa join two other newcomers, striker Miguel Berry and winger Martín Rodríguez, who debuted last weekend against CF Montreal.

Defensive midfielder Victor Palsson, acquired this week from German club Schalke, is awaiting a work visa. The aim is to have him in uniform Aug. 13 at New England.

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