The Belgian international forward arrived from Crystal Palace as a Designated Player on a two-and-a-half-year deal through the 2024 season, ready to take on the American league. Though he craved a ‘new challenge’ it was head coach Wayne Rooney that propelled his move.
“Obviously, Wayne drew me in. He’s been here, and I know him from the UK, so that was the first reason but I wanted a new challenge in my life. For me, that was a great chance to come here, and show myself to the American audience and the rest of the world,” he said in an exclusive interview with 90min.
Rooney took over as head coach in July 2022, replacing interim manager Chad Ashton. The team originally started the season with Hernan Losada, before parting ways and seeing a continued decline in results.
Though the Black and Red concluded the 2022 campaign in last place of the Eastern Conference table, Benteke believes Rooney’s offensive style of coaching will lead the team to victory once again.
“The team didn’t have a great 2022 season, but for me it was good to be there. To be part of it because I wanted to know how the league works, get to know the players, and the club overall. Now, I am looking forward to this new season,” he stated.
“But Rooney’s coaching style is why I came. He wants to play offensive football. He’s been a striker, so for me as a striker, the more chances we have to create the more I can score goals.”
D.C. United stands as one of the most historic clubs in MLS, forming part of the ten original teams that created the American league. The Black and Reds also saw earlier triumphs, winning the cup in 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2004 to become the only team to lift four league trophies.
But though the team’s success has slowly dwindled, Benteke is determined to bring back winning ways.
“It’s a huge honor to play for D.C. United, because they are historic. That’s why I want to help the team achieve some great moments and have a good season.”
Christian Benteke and D.C. United will kick off the 2023 campaign on February 25 when hosting Toronto FC at Audi Field.