TORONTO — The faces have changed quite a bit for Toronto FC since First Kick 2011, but former captain Dwayne De Rosario has changed teams twice.
They’ll meet again on Saturday when TFC visit D.C. United (7:30 pm ET, TSN, watch LIVE online).
Toronto native De Rosario began his third season with TFC this past March, but was traded to the New York Red Bulls on April 1, bringing and end to the rift between the club and player over salary. But by the time Toronto played New York — a 5-0 loss on July 6 — De Rosario had been traded again, this time to D.C. United, on June 27.
Toronto have undergone drastic changes since then, having added 10 players in a little more than a month. So there won’t be as many old friends and teammates facing De Rosario on Saturday as there might have been.
Still, it’ll be all business on the pitch against De Rosario, TFC ‘keeper Stefan Frei said Friday after training at Cherry Beach before the team boarded their afternoon flight to Washington.
“I hope he’s not going to score on us,” said Frei, who joined Toronto in 2009, the same season De Rosario did. “But not because of a personal thing, but more the fact that if he scores, we’re going to have a long day.”
Center back Andy Iro is one of the newcomers to TFC, but the former Columbus Crew man knows DeRo’s game all too well.
“He’s a great player, he’s proven around the league,” Iro said. “Obviously a lot of the guys here know him pretty well. ... If you can limit his options, then hopefully things work out for the best.”
Frei knows that his former teammate will likely save something special for the Reds.
“We’ll definitely have to mark him close,” he said. “There’s no doubt he’s going to be all juiced for this game, for sure. He’s going to want to make a mark and dominate the game and he’s the type of player with the ability to do that.”
De Rosario is coming off a game last weekend in which he scored a second-half brace against San Jose, another of his former teams. That performance was good enough to earn him MLS Player of the Week.
“That last game, it looks like a boring 0-0 game and he’s a difference-maker,” Frei said. “Give him a sniff and he’ll punish you for it.”
Saturday’s game at DC is the end of a long and wearying journey for the Reds. They drew last weekend at Portland with two late goals, then traveled to Nicaragua and defeated Real Estelí 2-1 to advance to the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League.
“The spirits are definitely up,” Frei said. “Everyone’s excited. It was only a tie in Portland — it’s not a win so it’s not ideal. But in the second half, you can’t ask for anything better than the way we responded.”
The next test for TFC is to see how they respond to an old friend in De Rosario.