After taking on D.C. United as head coach, Wayne Rooney vowed to spotlight the homegrown expertise on the roster. He promised to rejuvenate the squad, and take into accounts the academy expertise that lengthy fashioned a part of the D.C. United group.
On Saturday night time, Rooney adopted via. The pinnacle coach began 15-year-old defender Matai Akinmboni in opposition to Actual Salt Lake.
“I believe I’m a person of my phrase,” Rooney grinned after the match. “What I mentioned to the gamers once I got here in was ‘In case you carry out properly in coaching, you’ll get your likelihood to play.’ He [Matai] has been wonderful in coaching and he deserved to return in.”
His time on the pitch noticed Akinmboni change into the third-youngest participant in league historical past to make his MLS debut at 15 years previous, and the fourth participant to begin a match earlier than his sixteenth birthday to hitch Freddy Adu, Alphonso Davies and Obed Vargas on the record. And it’s solely the beginning.
“He’s 15 and I’ve to guard him. However I simply felt he was prepared to return in and play. Is he going to play each sport? In fact not. He’s nonetheless a really younger boy. However for him and for us to see him taking part in in an away sport in tough circumstances and performing the best way he did as a 15-year-old — he’s bought a really shiny future,” added Rooney.
“I bought the whole lot I wished from the 45 minutes that he performed tonight that I wished to see. I’ll hold making an attempt to develop him as a participant and hopefully be seeing extra of him on this season and for years to return.”
His begin comes simply weeks after the defender signed an official contract with the membership on August 31, however his standout performances in coaching and with USL Championship facet Loudon United propelled him in direction of a spot on Rooney’s squad.
However the night time wasn’t all celebratory.
D.C. United’s 0-0 draw leaves the membership in final place of the Japanese Convention desk, and formally guidelines them of rivalry for the 2022 MLS Cup playoffs. With 4 video games left to be performed earlier than the tip of the season, Rooney maintained he expects gamers to present it their all on the pitch.