Atlanta United boss Tata Martino on Wayne Rooney: 'He's arrived in good form'
Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino said his team would be wary of facing a player of Wayne Rooney's magnitude when it plays D.C. United on Saturday.
Rooney, 32, joined Ben Olsen's team from Premier League club Everton on June 28, inking a three-and-a-half-year deal with D.C., and Martino said he thought the former Manchester United forward looked to be "in pretty good form" in his debut as a substitute in a 3-1 win against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.
"Any institution, when a player of Rooney's magnitude arrives, it produces a positive impact for the club," said Martino. "And it looks like from the 30 minutes or so that I saw of his game against Vancouver that he's arrived in pretty good form."
Rooney's new coach Olsen agreed with Martino's assessment.
"I thought we looked sharp in the second half [against Vancouver], in particular when Rooney came on," Olsen said. "We saw what Wayne is -- a high quality, elite soccer player."
Atlanta is averaging a league-best 52,409 for games at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, including an MLS single-game record 72,243 for last week's 1-1 draw with the Seattle Sounders, so the team isn't exactly hurting when it comes to getting people through the turnstiles.
But the Eastern Conference leaders can likely expect another large turnout on Saturday afternoon when Rooney visits.
It will be the first road game and likely the first start for Rooney, who ranks second in Premier League history with 208 career goals for Everton and Man United.
D.C. United enters the contest with the second fewest points in MLS while Atlanta United has a one-point lead over New York City FC in the race for the Supporters' Shield. But Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan thinks the addition of Rooney will bring an added characteristic to D.C., making for a tough test on Saturday.
"He obviously brings a bit of a confidence factor for them in terms of his quality, so we know it's not going to be an easy game," said Guzan, who faced Rooney while playing at Aston Villa.
Atlanta has a star of its own in 25-year-old Venezuelan forward Josef Martinez, who leads the MLS with 19 goals -- seven more than anyone else in the race for the Golden Boot.