It's been just two months since D.C. United's 2012 campaign ended in defeat at the hands of the Houston Dynamo in the Eastern Conference Finals. Despite the disappointment of elimination, the match gave DCU fans plenty of hope for the 2013 season.
After sitting out ten games with and MCL injury sustained while playing for the Canadian Men's National Team on Sep. 11, De Rosario made his improbable return to the pitch in the second half of United's final match of the season. Having practiced with the team for several weeks, De Rosario finally got the nod in the 62nd minute as head coach Ben Olsen made a final push to attempt to climb out of the club's three-goal deficit. In just 28 minutes, the 2011 MLS MVP was able to generate a pair of close-calls for Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall. In the emotional 1-1 draw that eliminated the Black and Red from their first playoff appearance since 2007, United fans had the chance to see first-hand that their captain was back to form, making the future look just a bit brighter.
As DCU prepares for the much-anticipated 2013 season in Bradenton, Fla., De Rosario will spend the next week in Canada's training camp as they prepare for friendlies against Denmark (Jan. 26, Tuscon, Ariz.) and the United States (Jan. 29, Houston, Tex.).
Thanks to their deep playoff run, this offseason was short for United. For De Rosario, the offseason felt even shorter as the 34-year-old continued to rehab his knee.
But he didn't seem to mind.
"After three weeks of being in the offseason you're ready to get back into it anyway. You start to get jitters and you want to get back out there and play so I'm happy that we're here," De Rosario said at a full-team preseason training session last week.
The midfielder, who teammates said looked back to form by the end of last season, spent the break training on sand dunes in Mexico in order to build back the strength in his right knee and the smaller surrounding muscles in his legs.
"It was a lot of work. It's been a grueling offseason --it hasn't been much of an offseason to be honest-- but I'm really looking forward to this year," said De Rosario.
The DCU captain's time in Mexico wasn't all work, of course.
"After the sand dunes you get to relax and enjoy the beach. It was a good offseason. I'm well-rested, feel fit and am ready to go."
Getting in just 28 minutes of game action over the last five months, De Rosario is more eager than anyone to get back on the pitch.
"That's what it boils down to: the games," said the midfielder. "So I can't wait to start playing, getting a good understanding with the guys and a good rhythm back with the team and preparing for that first game. Last year we started the season off a little rocky so hopefully we can start off this year on the right foot confident and build on that throughout the season."
United will kick off the preseason on Jan. 26 against the Columbus Crew in Bradenton, Fla. De Rosario is expected to join the team for their four preseason matches in February before opening the 2013 season with a rematch against the Dynamo on Mar. 2 in Houston.