Wayne Rooney: MLS teams now showing D.C. United 'more respect'
Wayne Rooney says MLS opponents have started showing D.C. United more "respect" in the weeks since he joined the club.
The former Manchester United star has scored three goals and added three assists in eight games (six starts) since his debut on July 14.
But his impact has gone beyond statistics as D.C., which was bottom of the Eastern Conference before Rooney joined, have won five of those eight games, including a third in a row on Sunday night against the New England Revolution.
"I think what you're seeing now is teams respecting us a bit more," Rooney said after playing 90 minutes in the 2-0 win. "I think in previous games, New England have pressed a lot. ... I think today you could see their hesitance in doing that. And leaving the space for us to get on the ball."
A month ago, D.C. United lost to the New York Red Bulls 1-0 at home, but after his side's string of results, Rooney is expecting a different look when the teams meet in New Jersey next Sunday.
"I think you're seeing teams showing that little bit more respect to us, and Red Bulls, I'm sure they'll have more to think about than what they did last time," he added.
Rooney drew global attention a week ago with his impressive sequence of a game-saving tackle and winning assist to lift D.C. to a 3-2 win over Orlando, but while his heroics were not needed against New England, he said United played a better overall game.
"I thought today, the first half, we played some of the best football you'll see in the league," Rooney said. "[And] The second half was probably a better half for us because it was tougher. We dug in, we kept a clean sheet. ... It was a good performance all around."
D.C.'s recent form has also coincided with moving into the club's new Audi Field, and because of the timing of the stadium's opening, United will play nine of their remaining 12 games at home.
The fixtures list, as well as the fact that D.C. has played anwhere from two to four games fewer than any other team in the East, has fans optimistic that United can climb two spots into the playoff positions by the end of October.
"I asked a lot of these guys, mentally, physically, whether it's the preparation or the minutes that they put in," United coach Ben Olsen said. "It was a long week for these guys. And they dug in. At times there was some great stuff, some great soccer throughout the week."