DC is 5-10-2 for 17 points, and is tied with Chicago for the fewest in the 28-team league.
Team officials said they did not want to comment. Rooney’s long-time agent, Paul Stretford, has not traveled with Rooney, but was expected to arrive in Washington this week.
Those close to the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter freely, said the two sides were expected to conclude soon a multi-year deal worth at least $1 million annually, the highest coaching salary in the club’s history.
Once the deal is completed and he receives a work permit, Rooney will take over from interim coach Chad Ashton, Who replaced Hernan Losada Six games a season. Ashton will continue to direct the team until then. Ashton is then expected to return to the assistant role he has held for most of the past 15 years. One person said Rooney will act as a consultant for the team until he gets the pass, which usually takes two to three weeks.
Ashton was informed of the coaching decision over the weekend, and through a virtual team meeting on Sunday, club officials informed the players of Rooney’s impending arrival.
Rooney – Manchester United legend and England’s greatest goalscorer – retired in January 2021, shortly after being appointed coach of Derby County, an English squad on the second trip. He stepped down last month after Derby, who has financial problems, was relegated to the third division.
One person said Rooney is planning to hire an assistant from English circles, and try to persuade players based in Europe he knows to sign for United during the transfer window – which runs until August 4 – or before the 2023 season.
Among the goals, that person said, is Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez, the 35-year-old former Liverpool, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid star who plays as a free agent. United has two slots open for specific players, an MLS rating for high-end acquisitions.
Since leaving United after the 2019 season, Rooney has remained friendly with some DC players and team executives, who have consulted with him several times about potential player signings.
United haven’t qualified for the playoffs since Rooney’s second year at MLS. He had planned to play in Washington for at least one more season, but because his family was not comfortable living abroad, He and the club agreed to separate. It is not clear when his wife and four children will join him here.
What remained unclear on Sunday was whether United complied MLS Diversity Employment Policy, which requires at least two non-white candidates from among the finalists for technical staff positions. No other names have appeared in public.
The league grants concessions under “extenuating circumstances”. United did not have to follow this policy when Ashton replaced Losada because she was holding the position on a temporary basis.
A Major League Soccer spokesperson said the league will provide an update on Monday.
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