Wayne Rooney says Everton never reached out about coaching job

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PALM DESERT, Calif. – Everton’s hiring of Sean Dyche as coach on Monday ended speculation that the English Premier League club could target DC United coach Wayne Rooney, who has deep links with the Toffees.

Rooney’s name was a constant in English circles before and after Frank Lampard was fired last week, and Rooney said he would like to coach in the Premier League someday. On Monday, however, he said he was never approached by Everton.

“It’s the club I grew up supporting and loving,” he said. “They are going through a very difficult time in the history of the club, and they felt they had to change. Sean Dyche is very experienced. It was always going to be an experienced manager.”

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Dyche, who was fired by Burnley last spring after a 10-year tenure, signed a 2½-year contract 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 at 9 and signed a pro contract at 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 as a player for 1½ seasons.

Rooney’s coaching contract with DC United is guaranteed only through this season – he took the job last summer – and includes a club option for 2024.

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“It was what I felt was right,” he said of the short-term deal. “There were questions I wanted to know the answers from the owners: What players can bring in and make sure I get what I wanted to build the team?”

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Asked if he got what he wanted this season, Rooney said: “You always want more. The players we brought in, I’m happy. I’m sure we’ll have a good season, and hopefully we’ll get one or two players earlier [the transfer window closes this spring]. If not, we can see where we are in mid-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.”

Clich’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, an attacker, signed with United on January 12 and met his new teammates in Washington, but he had to return to Europe as the visa process unfolded.

Klich is slated to make his preseason debut next Monday against MLS Cup champion Los Angeles FC at the Coachella Valley Invitational in Indio, Calif., Rooney said. Rooney added that Clichy has continued to work with Leeds fitness coaches as he awaits resolution of the visa process.

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Plans for Coachella matches

United will open 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 75 minutes against Charlotte, and insert 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 (foot surgery). Williams, a projected starter acquired by the Los Angeles Galaxy in the offseason, is out for several weeks, Rooney said.

On Wednesday, Matai Akinmboni, 16, will join the central defense with Andy Najar, a right back and winger.

Najjar, who is battling Brazilian newcomer Ruan for the starting right-back job, has been “brilliant in preseason,” Rooney said.

Midfielder Viktor Palsson, who could play at centre-back, is a week away from returning from a hamstring injury.

Goalkeeper situation uncomfortable

Alex Bono, one of three new goalkeepers on the roster, is slated to start the Charlotte match, Rooney said. Taylor Miller – who, like Bono, signed a free agent contract this winter – started the 3-2 loss to the Galaxy last week in Carson, California.

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Luis Zamudio, who played for second-tier Loudoun United last year, is scheduled to start against Vancouver.

“I want them all to have a good time in the first two or three games so I can see them properly and then make a decision” on who starts the season opener Feb. 25 against Toronto FC, Rooney said. “They all trained really well. They push each other, so 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 is 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 have another coach who knows the league, and obviously he has experience as a head coach,” Rooney said. “I talked to him a few times this winter, and it felt like a great 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 attacker from the youth academy, is also in camp and could become a homegrown signing target this year.

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