Wayne Rooney not play against Atlanta United on Sunday because of minor injuries, the first match he has missed because of ailments since arriving in MLS last summer.
Instead of traveling here from Cincinnati, the site of a 4-1 victory Thursday, Rooney was given permission to join his family vacationing in England. He is scheduled to return to Washington by Tuesday.
“There are some signs of wear and tear, some little niggling things,” Coach Ben Olsen said. “It’s just time to give him a mental and physical break. It’s that simple. It’s not something we want to push right now.”
Rooney, 33, leads the team in goals (11) and assists (seven), playing a direct part in 58 percent of United’s scoring. His goal total is tied for fourth in the league. On Thursday, he scored United’s third goal.
Known for an unrelenting work ethic, Rooney has been a constant in the lineup for United. The only previous match he missed this year was for a red-card suspension. Olsen gave him a break in mid-May, bringing him off the bench early in the second half at Toronto.
In 20 starts, Rooney played 90 minutes in all but three games. On Thursday, he made his earliest exit, leaving in the 83rd minute after absorbing a hard challenge. Last year, once he was fit enough to start, he was in the lineup 17 consecutive times and missed just 20 minutes.
“He has played almost every game and trains every day,” Olsen said. “He has been grinding along and just needs a physical break.”
Playing for the second time in four days on artificial turf, Olsen added, also factored into the decision.
The fact United won the first game on this two-game road swing probably also figured into the move.
Olsen said he told his captain, “Go take a couple days, go see your family, get back early next week and we’ll get ready for Chicago” on Saturday in Bridgeview, Ill.