By Dave Johnson
The countdown to MLS Cup 2011 Sunday in Los Angeles is on. The award-winners are starting to trickle out. Later this week the leagues Most Valuable Player will be revealed and there is no question it should go to D.C. Uniteds Dwayne De Rosario.
This is not D.C. United bias talking. Simply put De Rosario is probably the most underrated player in league history. On the books De Rosario is not considered a designated player, but in the history books of MLS De Rosario is worthy of several chapters and should be designated in an elite category.
De Rosario has won four MLS Cup titles and scored a mind blowing three game winning goals in those finals. To go without championship success with the San Jose Earthquakes and Houston Dynamo, De Rosario was twice an MLS Cup MVP and twice a winner of the leagues goal-of-the-year award.
De Rosarios story is just like MLS itself with an uncertain beginning followed by an incredible journey. In 1997 De Rosario was trying to carve out a career with the old A-Leagues Toronto Lynx. By 1999, after a stint in the German lower divisions, De Rosario landed for in Richmond where he enjoyed a two year run with the Kickers.
Its fitting that De Rosario is set to find a home with D.C. United after almost securing a spot with the Black and Red ten years ago. De Rosario was a guest on a tour of El Salvador with D.C. United after the 2000 season. The team was coached by Comcast SportsNets Thomas Rongen and the assistant coach was Frank Yallop.
Yallop took over as head coach of the San Jose Earthquakes before the 2001 season and he was quick to lure De Rosario to the west coast. It was the start of an amazing ride. The Earthquakes because of stadium issues moved to Houston to become the Dynamo, but the franchise was the most successful of the past decade and De Rosario was instrumental in that.
The MVP award is not based on previous seasons, but it is important to appreciate the road De Rosario has taken to scripting another season to remember. De Rosario claimed the 2011 MLS Budweiser Golden Boot and finished with 16 goals and 12 assists, despite playing for three teams.
When De Rosario joined Toronto FC in 2009 it seemed like the perfect fit. The Scarborough, Ontario native seemed destined to be the one to reward his hometown fans for their ardent support with success in MLS. It didnt happen and De Rosario didnt get the designated player status he wanted and certainly deserved with TFC.
De Rosario then went to the New York Red Bulls and initially he looked to be the final piece complete and east coast super team to match the LA Galaxy. To D.C. Uniteds benefit it did not work out, and by mid-season De Rosario was back with the club that first courted him ten years ago.
In 18 games with D.C. United, De Rosario scored 13 goals and added seven assists. He elevated a team in need of an identity and provided leadership to the youngest side in MLS. The R.F.K. supporters greeted every touch of the ball by De Rosario with a sense of anticipation previously only reserved for Jamie Moreno and Marco Etcheverry.
Through an amazing career De Rosario has been humble and reserved. He has the style, but it has been surpassed by the substance of his accomplishments. Off the field, De Rosario has been one of the leagues great ambassadors.
De Rosarios recognition as a designated player is long overdue. The MVP award for 2011 to De Rosario is a no-brainer.