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The next Adu or Davies? Man Utd legend Rooney hands MLS debut to 15-year-old Akinmboni at D.C. United

5:45 AM EDT 9/12/22
Freddy Adu Alphonso Davies
Wayne Rooney has handed a debut to 15-year-old Matai Akinmboni at D.C. United, making him the third-youngest player in MLS history.
  • Youngster started game at centre-half
  • Helped to keep a clean sheet
  • Has written his name into the history books

WHAT HAPPENED? Only Freddy Adu, who was 14 when making his senior bow, and current Bayern Munich star Alphonso Davies, who was also 15 when bursting onto the scene at the Vancouver Whitecaps, made a breakthrough earlier than a hot prospect in Washington. Manchester United legend Rooney knows all about starring at a young age, having made his debut for Everton at 16, and is not afraid to throw teenage talent in at the deep end.

WHAT THEY SAID: D.C. United boss Rooney has said of Akinmboni’s big break: “He's 15 and I have to protect him. But I just felt he was ready to come in and play. Is he going to play every game? Of course not. He's still a very young boy. I got everything I wanted from the 45 minutes that he played tonight that I wanted to see. I'll keep trying to develop him as a player and hopefully be seeing more of him in this season and for years to come.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Akinmboni was included from the start in a 0-0 draw with Real Salt Lake and caught the eye when helping to keep a clean sheet in a centre-half berth.

AND WHAT'S MORE: Rooney needs inspiration from somewhere as D.C. United have been struggling for form this season, taking just nine points from their 10 games working under the management of a former England captain.

STORY IN THREE PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT FOR AKINMBONI? The highly-rated youngster will be hoping to see more game time in the weeks to come, while his potential is likely to have been noted by sides outside of North America.