Photo by ISIphotos.com
By AVI CREDITOR
WASHINGTON — The shock of Monday's trade that forced Dwayne De Rosario to change addresses for a second time this season hit just about everybody involved.
De Rosario seemed blindsided by the deal. D.C. coach Ben Olsen seemed surprised that the Canadian international was up for grabs. United players didn't know what to think at first.
"It was a total surprise. I had no idea," De Rosario said. "I got a call, and that's the unfortunate part of MLS is that you can just be moved at any given second without any indication. As a player you have to go about it as professionally as you can. Thankfully, I'm going to a great club that has a lot of history and a great coaching staff and organization."
After that initial shock wore off, the reality of the situation is that De Rosario could flourish in a playmaking role in the nation's capital.
De Rosario joined United training on Thursday for the first time since the trade that sent him from Eastern Conference rival New York to D.C. in exchange for Dax McCarty, and the team appears eager to work him into the mix. Based on his first training session with the club, De Rosario figures to be sandwiched between wingers Chris Pontius and Andy Najar and behind strikers Charlie Davies and Josh Wolff.
"For guys like (Wolff) and I, it's a dream for a player like that to come to our team," Davies said. "We're strikers that love to make runs in behind, keep defenses honest, and he's a guy that has to make defenders stay honest."
De Rosario was expected to be the missing piece in New York's run to a league title (Red Bulls general manager Erik Soler even said 'We think this is a massive step in our quest towards the MLS Cup title,' the day De Rosario was acquired) but was instead jettisoned from the Big Apple after a brief stay.
Now with his third team in as many months, the 33-year-old De Rosario is hoping for some stability and some positive results.
Considering how often he used to victimize D.C. as an opponent, his new team is hoping for the same thing.
"It just seemed like every time he'd play us, he was scoring goals," Olsen said. "We've wanted him for a while, and it finally came our way. We took it. We're very excited, the organization is excited, I think the fans are excited. Hopefully that all ends up making us better as a group."
Olsen expressed caution at raising the expectation level too high, too quickly, but there appears to be more optimism surrounding a D.C. team that has had trouble putting teams away despite holding late leads, as was the case in United's last game against one of De Rosario's former teams, Houston.
"Dax called me before the meeting with the coach," Davies said. "It's definitely a shock. You lose a close friend and great teammate, then all of a sudden its part of the business, and my first thing was, 'We're losing you. Who are we getting?' and he said a straight up trade for De Rosario, and I thought, 'We're going to miss you, but he's a guy that's really going to help us.'
"When you throw in a guy like that, so much experience, a winning mentality, he's won championships, a triple threat, it's a huge boost. It's the step we needed. He's a piece that we've been lacking to really make our team that much more dangerous."
De Rosario has been a part of four MLS Cup-winning teams, including a Houston team that lifted the trophy at RFK Stadium in 2007. De Rosario was named MVP of that contest after scoring the game-winning goal.
"He's a winner," Olsen said. "I'm trying to bring in guys that really know how to win. We've struggled with that. We've got a lot of young talent, a lot of upside. It's nice to bring in another guy who really knows how to win."
Joseph Ngwenya, currently a reserve forward with D.C., and Pat Onstad, currently D.C.'s goalkeeping coach, both had big roles in that 2007 contest and know De Rosario and his game very well.
The link between the various personnel on D.C.'s roster and De Rosario's past is only seen as a plus for the player.
"They understand me as a person and an individual and the way I play," De Rosario said. "I work hard for the team, and I demand that from my players as well as they do. We're going to try to share some of that hunger and get some results."
Oddly enough, De Rosario, who will wear the No. 7 for United (previously worn by current D.C. midfielder Stephen King), almost started his MLS career with United. After a standout stint at then A-League-side Richmond Kickers, De Rosario accompanied the team and then-D.C. assistant coach Frank Yallop on a preseason trip to Central America.
When Yallop took the head coaching job in San Jose, he made sure De Rosario went along with him.
Ten years later, De Rosario, whose contract is up at the end of the season, hopes for an extended stay in D.C. after a whirlwind few months that have seen his locker move south from Toronto's BMO Field to Red Bull Arena and now RFK Stadium.
"That's the most important thing for any professional athlete is to be settled and to have a piece of mind when you're playing that you know you have a future somewhere," De Rosario said. "The main thing right now is to get playing, let my play do the talking and then we'll take it from there."