Rooney’s strong D.C. United too much for Nani’s Orlando City
The first battle of the former Manchester United teammates went to Rooney, though Nani’s underdog side showed some encouraging fight
Facing off in the warm weather of Central Florida, an ocean away from the perennially rainy confines of Old Trafford where they teamed up for seven seasons, Wayne Rooney and Nani faced off as club opponents for the first time and it was Rooney who left Orlando with a victory.
The former Manchester United teammates showed their quality, but it was Rooney who had the bigger impact on the proceedings at Orlando City Stadium, setting up D.C. United’s opening goal before scoring his own wonder goal to secure a 2-1 win, his team’s first road victory in almost a year.
Rooney’s D.C. United has picked up where it left off in 2018, a season that saw the Eastern Conference side go from last place to title contender after Rooney arrived. Sunday’s victory improved D.C. United to 3-0-1, good for first place in the Eastern Conference.
Nani’s arrival in MLS hasn’t gone quite as smoothly. Orlando City has managed just one win in five matches, but the team’s struggles aren’t exactly a surprise considering the Lions had the second-worst record in MLS a year ago and count Nani as the only high-profile addition made during the winter.
Nani is in a bit of an unfamiliar role with Orlando City, as the team’s most high-profile player. Throughout his career he has been able to play alongside bigger names and serve as an effective second or third option.
In Orlando, Nani has stepped into the void left by the departure of Kaka, and while he has already shown that he has the quality to be an elite MLS player, he will be hard-pressed to turn Orlando City into a contender if the team doesn’t bring in any other high-profile reinforcements.