DC United’s Matai Akinmboni is the third youngest player to debut in MLS
On Saturday, the teenager faced an RSL side in the middle of the playoff hunt and coped well with an often impressive attack. While that might make him eager to see the field for United’s remaining four games this season, Rooney is acutely aware of the need to be aware of the challenges Akinmboni faces at such a young age.
“He‘s 15 and I have to protect him. But I just felt like he was ready to come in and play. Will he play every game? Of course not. He’s a very young boy,” said the former Manchester United and England star, who made his professional debut at Everton aged 16. “But for him and for us, to see him play away in difficult circumstances and play like he is at 15 – he has a bright future.
“I got everything I wanted, everything I wanted to see, in the 45 minutes he played tonight. I will keep trying to develop him as a player and hopefully see more of him this season and in the years to come.”
Akinmboni is only the fourth player in MLS history to start a game before turning 16, alongside Adu, who made 17 starts before turning 16 in 2004 and 2005, Davies (two starts in 2016) and Obed Vargas from Seattle (a 2021 start). ).
The Maryland native made his first call-up to the United States U-17 national team in August and could make his debut at that level in upcoming friendlies this year.