WASHINGTON – Thirteen games into his D.C. United career, and Dwayne De Rosario has already proved to be a smash hit with his new team.
He’s reached double-digits with 10 goals since being acquired on June 27, and added six assists to boot. The hot trend continued with a hat trick and an assist in an uplifting 4-1 win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday night.
By comparison, prior to making the move to the nation’s capital, De Rosario had just three goals and five assists in 15 games while at Toronto and New York.
“I feel a lot more comfortable in terms of the role [coach Ben Olsen] has me playing – a free role,” De Rosario said after Tuesday’s training session. “I always said that’s where I feel most comfortable, where I’m at my strongest: dropping in at times, sometimes even helping at the back.”
Olsen has given De Rosario that freedom he desires – operating from either an attacking midfield role or as a withdrawn forward, floating all over the field and making things happen, either in front of goal or from deep in the midfield.
“His instincts are pretty impressive out there,” Olsen said. “He plays the game like a guy you want on your team. He plays hard, he plays with passion, he’s entertaining. He’s been a great addition.”
Consistently lauded as one of the all-time MLS greats, De Rosario’s recent performances have also thrust him into the conversation for MLS MVP, and he’s the current leader in the race for the Golden Boot with a total of 13 goals on the year.
While Olsen enjoys the match-winning antics of De Rosario on the field, as a 33-year-old veteran of numerous playoff clashes and a two-time MLS Cup MVP, he’s also being counted on to assume a leadership position on a young team.
“He realizes his role here is not just on the field,” Olsen said. “He’s a big part of this. I’ve asked a lot of him in the locker room of him as well. He and [Josh] Wolff are key pieces in helping me out with the group. They’ve been through it and know what’s going on.”
With D.C. right on the brink of a playoff spot with six games remaining, De Rosario and the rest of the team are going to have to come close to replicating performances like the one against RSL to pull themselves up the standings.
And though De Rosario acknowledged that Saturday night was something special, he has even bigger goals in mind for the whole group.
“Winning a championship for me, always take precedence over league games and wins,” he said. “I would love to share that opportunity with some of these players to play in the big stage, the grand finale if you like, in LA at the end of the year.”
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, college and youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com.