The editorial staff at MLSsoccer.com is looking back over the year with our Best of 2011 awards, running Dec. 19 through Jan. 2. Each day we'll hand out an award in a variety of categories culled from the storylines of MLS and US international players, including Biggest Controversy, American Export of the Year and, via fan vote, the Moment of the Year.
In the latest installment, MLSsoccer.com correspondent John Bolster looks at the Assist of the Year, given to Dwayne De Rosario's pitch-perfect through ball to D.C. United teammate Andy Najar that kick-started a 4-1 romp over Real Salt Lake on Sept. 24.
You know what would make an appropriate soundtrack for the clip of Dwayne De Rosario’s lethal through ball to Andy Najar in the 14th minute of DC United’s 4-1 romp over the Real Salt Lake on Sept 24?
That samurai-sword slashing sound from “Fruit Ninja.”
Watch as De Ro skillfully collects a hard pass near midfield, turns, sees Najar take off down the right flank, and—sssthchick!—splits the RSL defense wide open with one perfectly measured pass. The Canadian international’s ball beats five defenders at a stroke and springs Najar in the box for the inevitable finish.
The sequence comfortably beat out efforts from two of the league’s most high-profile players, David Beckham and Rafa Márquez, for the Assist of the Year in 2011.
Before we get to those two, it’s worth mentioning that De Ro’s killer assist was just the beginning of arguably the greatest 31-minute flourish in MLS history. After setting up Najar, De Rosario scored three goals himself before halftime, pacing DC’s rout.
Second Place: Rafa Márquez to Thierry Henry, New York vs. LA, Oct. 4
Márquez’s long ball to Henry is similar to De Ro’s pass in terms of vision and execution, but LA defender AJ De La Garza might have done better on the play. Therefore: runner-up.
Third Place: David Beckham to Mike Magee, LA v Real Salt Lake, Nov. 6
These two connected for three goals in the 2011 playoffs and this may have been their best: Beckham being Beckham, spinning in a perfect cross, and Magee beating RSL defender Robbie Russell to the spot.