John Rooney, the 20-year-old younger brother of Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, headlines a list of young international players who will join the college seniors and Generation adidas signees invited to participate in the annual MLS player combine in January.
The English midfielder, who trialed with the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers in August, has signed an MLS contract and will be available for selection by all MLS clubs via the SuperDraft in Baltimore.
MLSsoccer.com caught up with Rooney back in England as he prepares to embark on his American dream.
MLSsoccer.com: Why MLS? What has struck you about the league that you want to play in America?
John Rooney: I’ve been watching the league for a few years now and it’s getting better and better every year. When I went over there in August I thoroughly enjoyed it. I went to one of the Seattle games [while on trial] and the Sounders fans were great. They [Sounders] had great support and it was a great experience. When I went over there it was fantastic from the start.
MLSsoccer.com: How did the opportunity with Seattle come about?
John Rooney: I played for Macclesfield in the English league and they offered me a new contract and I turned it down. I was focused on the chance and the opportunity to go over there [USA] in August and trial with two teams [Seattle and Portland]. It was the right time in my career to go over there and to improve on my young career.
MLSsoccer.com: Portland manager John Spencer played in England. How did you hit it off during your trial?
John Rooney: I didn’t really speak to him. He had only just got the Portland job when I was there. I really didn’t get to meet him.
MLSsoccer.com: What was your impression from your MLS trials?
John Rooney: I really enjoyed it. The lifestyle and the football there [in USA] was great. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I wanted to get back over there and have a career over there.
MLSsoccer.com: What’s your position on the field and what are your characteristics?
John Rooney: I trialed at midfield. In Portland I played up front in one game and I moved to midfield. Midfield is my best position. I’m probably more of an attacking midfielder. Getting on the ball and making stuff happens, creating plays.
MLSsoccer.com: How has it been waiting six months without a club?
John Rooney: It’s been tough. I really wanted to come over there [USA] and now I’m just waiting to get myself going and get started.
MLSsoccer.com: How have you stayed fit over the last six months?
John Rooney: I’ve been training with Tranmere Rovers. Since I’ve come home from the United States I’ve been training there to keep myself fit and in shape. I can’t wait to get going.
MLSsoccer.com: Aside from Macclesfield Town, any other offers that came in for you over the last six months?
John Rooney: There were a few teams sniffing around from the higher leagues but I wanted to change my career and go to the United States to build on my own career over there [in USA].
MLSsoccer.com: Are you familiar with the way the SuperDraft works?
John Rooney: When I first went over [to USA] I started reading up about the draft and how the league worked. For the last six months I’ve been looking at the web site every day and reading about how it works. I have an idea now. I can’t wait to get over there and get started.
MLSsoccer.com: Do you have an idea of the teams which are interested in you?
John Rooney: When the draft comes. I haven’t spoken to any teams at the moment. When the combine starts I need to address the coaches that are watching and take it from there.
MLSsoccer.com: Any special connections to the USA?
John Rooney: That was my first time in the United States [in the summer]. But I heard a lot of good stuff. My family was on vacation and they love the United States. When I went over there I was just surprised how good it was and I couldn’t wait to get back over there [to USA] and play soccer over there.
MLSsoccer.com: What has your brother [Manchester United's Wayne Rooney] told you about the United States?
John Rooney: He told me about a few of the teams he played when they’ve been over on tour. The team [Manchester United] enjoyed it a lot and he likes it over there [in USA].
MLSsoccer.com: Do you see this as an opportunity to make a name for yourself outside of England?
John Rooney: That’s why I want to get over there [to USA] -- so it’s just me. And I want to build my own career over there and do my best. Hopefully I‘ll enjoy it.
MLSsoccer.com: When do you leave England for the United States?
John Rooney: I fly out on the 2nd of January. I’ll get used to the time change over there and probably take in a bit of training before the Combine starts [Jan. 7].
MLSsoccer.com: In the meantime, any special holiday plans in the Rooney household?
John Rooney: I’m spending it with the family before I go away. Looking forward to spending it with the family.
MLSsoccer.com: Any messages for MLS fans before they see you at the Combine?
John Rooney: Hopefully they like my style of play, what I bring to the field and the way I am.