By RON FANFAIR
When Dwayne DeRosario joined his third Major League Soccer team in two months late last June, he posted on his twitter account, “when one door closes, many more open.”
He was right.
What looked like it was going to be a challenging year midway through 2011 turned into a dream season for the Scarborough-born midfielder who became the first Canadian to win the MLS Most Valuable Player award, capturing 72.7 per cent of the votes by media, players and club officials, with the percentage of each group totalled.
A runner-up for the award in 2005 and finalist a year later, the five-time MLS All Star said that while he’s humbled by all the votes he received, the players’ ballot meant the most to him.
“It’s a mutual respect,” said DeRosario, who was with Toronto FC for the first two games before being traded to New York Bulls and then D.C. United. “I am a fan of and admire a lot of players in this great league. To get that kind of respect from the players is a great feeling. That’s the greatest feeling one could ever receive when fellow players identify your hard work, dedication and commitment.”
The 33-year-old DeRosario, who made his MLS debut a decade ago with San Jose Earthquakes, admitted it wasn’t easy playing for three clubs this season.
“Different systems, different coaching philosophies, different players, different styles, different roles,” he said of the obstacles he had to surmount. “Your family’s relocating, schools, doctors…all that you gotta bear in mind. And you gotta do it overnight. And that’s not easy…Believe me, it took a lot out of me to go out there and perform at 100 per cent. I knew, once I crossed the lines, I had to give it my all for every team.”
Overall, DeRosario registered 16 goals, 13 of them for D.C. United in 18 games.
“In all of our years, and we have had some great players at D.C. United, I have never seen a better performance than what we got from Dwayne,” said D.C. United president, Kevin Payne. “The fact that he got three times as many votes from the players as the next highest vote getter shows what his peers think of him.”
D.C. United holds the option on DeRosario’s contract for next season and the club has made it clear they will negotiate a long-term deal with the league’s MVP.
“We do think Dwayne has more than one left in the tank at a very high level,” added Payne. “We will be sitting down with his representatives soon to discuss his future with D.C. United.”
The Player of the Month last July with three goals and an assist, DeRosario swung into top gear in August, scoring a hat-trick against Toronto FC and two assists against newcomers, Vancouver Whitecaps.
He’s the league’s eighth leading goal scorer with 93 in 274 contests.
DeRosario clinched the league’s Golden Boot award earlier this month for being the top goal scorer. He and San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski finished with 16 goals but DeRosario won the award based on assists which was the tiebreaker. He had 12 compared to Wondolowski’s three.
De Rosario has won four MLS Cup championships – two with the San Jose Earthquakes and two more after the franchise moved to Houston and became the Dynamo in 2006. He’s the only player to win two MLS Cup MVP awards, in 2001 and 2007.
The league MVP award crowned a most satisfying week for DeRosario, the son of Guyanese immigrants and the cousin of Canadian 100-metre hurdler, Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, who won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
He led Canada to Round Three of the 2014 World Cup regional qualifying tournament and tied Dale Mitchell as the national men’s team leading goal scorers with 19 after scoring from the penalty spot in Canada’s 4-0 win over St. Kitts & Nevis at BMO Field nine days ago.