The Shrine of Dwayne De Rosario

The Shrine of Dwayne De Rosario

By Greg Cooper

You rarely see a player who is much better than everyone else. They seem to know what is happening a couple of seconds before it does, not only do they know what is going to happen, they also know what they need to do to make it have a positive outcome for their team and finally they have the technical and physical skill to do it. Dwayne De Rosario is one of these players.

These players are a special commodity in the world of football. They do not come about often and yet they are invariably, criminally overlooked. Defensive coaches believe they do not contribute enough to their sides, that they are too lazy, too selfish. What they don’t seem to understand is that these players are why people watch football, yes everyone can appreciate a good sliding tackle or a great clearance off the line, but there is nothing more special to a football fan than to watch someone dance through a defence, smash the ball home and then run off to do the ritual of celebration to the crowd. I would happily pay a lot of money to see De Rosario play week in week out for this reason.

In my opinion De Rosario is the greatest Canadian football player ever. Born in Ontario, he began his career with Toronto Lynx. He then left to Germany, in what would be the first of his unsuccessful trips into Europe. After only 12 appearances he came back to North America and after a decent spell with Richmond Kickers, De Rosario got his break with San Jose Earthquakes.

In his 4 year spell with San Jose, he won the MLS cup twice, was named MLS Cup MVP, was put in the MLS best XI and also won the goal of the season consecutively in 2004 and 2005. You can see why people call him the MLS’ greatest ever player. At this time though, arguably his peak, De Rosario should have moved onto better things, a better league where his technique and ability to win a game would have been properly tested by better players and better teams. He had opportunities as well; Nottingham Forest had him on trial in 2004, but he wasn’t offered a contract. This probably isn’t because De Rosario is not worthy of the league but down to Mick Harford, the manager of Nottingham Forest at the time, being an idiot.

After this De Rosario continued to win honours both individually and with his club, this time it was Toronto F.C, but what does this mean to the average football fan? Fuck all. He had already proved that he was much better than everyone else in the MLS, obviously the ignorant among us will say that this is hardly a difficult task but the fact is he was, and when someone is noticeably better than everyone else at something they tend to get promoted, in the MLS there was nowhere else to go apart from sideways and this is what Dwayne continued to do. Canada’s greatest ever player had hit his glass-ceiling.

But then, in January this year during Neil Lennon’s flurry of spending to try and take the title away from Rangers, which ultimately failed, here he was again, in Britain, having a trial with Celtic. I contained my excitement and filled my head with excuses and ways out; it wasn’t going to happen, he has done this before, Lennon won’t understand his ability, his flair, the Scottish hate players like him and he is too fat and old now anyway. But hang about, both he and Celtic wanted it to happen, just a short term loan before the start of the season, they might extend the deal at the end of the season as well. Yet again though, the deal hit a brick wall, the new Toronto FC coach came in and denied any possibility of it, so did the MLS. With him already at the age of 33, the dream was over, he will never move out of the MLS.

One of the only players I can think of in modern times that can be compared to De Rosario is Lee Trundle, Swansea fans are the only ones that will really ever know how good he was. Although this is a shame in some ways, it makes him more of a cult hero. Dwayne De Rosario is the same; he is the MLS’ cult hero.

You can read more from Greg on his blog It’s A Ball Not A Bomb, follow him on Twitter and you can write your own “The Shrine of” piece for Holding Midfield by using the contact details.

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