“It’s the club I grew up supporting and loving,” he said. “They are going through a very difficult period in the club’s history and they felt they had to change. Sean Dyche is very experienced. There should always be an experienced leader.”
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Dyche, who was sacked by Burnley last spring after a 10-year spell, signed a 2½-year deal with Everton, who are 19th in the 20-team league and in danger of relegation for the first time since 1954.
Rooney joined Everton’s youth academy aged 9 and signed a professional contract aged 16. He played two seasons for the first team before moving to Manchester United, where he reached superstardom, then returned to Everton in 2017. A year later, he signed with DC United playing for 1½ seasons.
Rooney’s coaching contract with DC United is guaranteed for this season only – he took the job last summer – and includes a club option for 2024.
“It was what I felt was right,” he said of the short-term deal. “There were questions I wanted to know the answers to from the owners: What players could we bring in and make sure I got what I wanted to build the squad?”
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Asked if he got what he wanted this offseason, Rooney said: “You always want more. I am satisfied with the players we brought in. I’m sure we’ll have a good season and hopefully get one or two players in sooner [the transfer window closes this spring]. If not, we can see where we are in the middle of the season,” when the summer window opens.
He added, “We’re still looking, but with the budget the way it works, we’re looking for the right player in the right position.”
Klich’s arrival imminent
Mateusz Klich, United’s prized winter signing from Premier League club Leeds, is scheduled to receive his work visa and join the club this week, Rooney said.
Klich, a striker, signed with United on January 12 and met his new team-mates in Washington but needed to return to Europe as the visa process played out.
Klich will make his debut next Monday against MLS Cup champion Los Angeles FC at the Coachella Valley Invitational in Indio, Calif., Rooney said. Rooney added that Klich has continued to train with Leeds training coaches while he waits for the visa process to be resolved.
Schedules for Coachella matches
United opens the Coachella tournament on Wednesday with a 90-minute game against Charlotte FC and a 45-minute session against Vancouver.
Rooney said he will play many regulars for 75 minutes against Charlotte, then bring in reserves, who will then play the full 45 against the Whitecaps.
Several players are unavailable, including four center backs: Steven Birnbaum (illness), Derrick Williams (thigh), Donovan Pines (recovery from hernia surgery) and Brendan Hines-Ike (photosurgery). Williams, a projected starter acquired from the Los Angeles Galaxy in the offseason, is out for a few weeks, Rooney said.
On Wednesday, Matai Akinmboni (16) will partner in central defense with Andy Najar, a right-back and winger.
Najar, who is battling Brazilian newcomer Ruan for the starting right-back job, has been “brilliant in preseason”, Rooney said.
Midfielder Victor Palsson, who can play at centre-back, is a week away from returning from a hamstring injury.
The goalkeeper situation is unclear
Alex Bono, one of three new goaltenders on the roster, will start the Charlotte game, Rooney said. Tyler Miller — who, like Bono, signed a free agent contract this winter — started the 3-2 loss to the Galaxy last week in Carson, California.
Luis Zamudio, who played for second team Loudoun United last year, is scheduled to start against Vancouver.
“I want them all to get plenty of time in the first two or three games so I can watch them properly and then make a decision” on who will start the Feb. 25 season opener against Toronto FC, Rooney said. – They have all trained very well. They push each other, so that’s what I wanted.”
Midfielder Ravel Morrison, who followed Rooney to United from Derby County last summer, could be on his way out.
“He’s talking to the club,” Rooney said. “He’s been training well, but I know there are some conversations about what we do in the future.” …
Former Vancouver coach Carl Robinson is close to signing a contract to join the staff as an assistant, Rooney said.
“I felt it was important that we had another coach in who knows the league and he obviously has experience as a head coach,” Rooney said. “I talked to him several times this winter and it felt like a good fit.” …
Midfielder Alex Nagy, a draft pick last winter who signed with Loudoun United this month, is training with the first team and could earn an MLS contract. …
Midfielder Aidan Rocha, a second-round draft pick out of Georgetown, remains in camp. …
Ignacio “Nacho” Alem, a 16-year-old forward from the youth academy, is also in camp and could become a homegrown signing target this year.