WASHINGTON – There was a time where you couldn't go more than a week without seeing Dwayne De Rosario's name on an MLS scoresheet – a fact reflected in his capturing of the 2011 MLS Golden Boot and MVP awards.
This season, though, the goals have dried up for the 33-year-old. Luckily for D.C. United, the attacker's drought hasn't affected the team in the slightest.
While De Rosario's been absent from the goalscoring charts, United have climbed all the way into second place in the Eastern Conference ahead of Saturday's visit by the Houston Dynamo (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“Individual honors, in terms of goals, are great,” De Rosario told MLSsoccer.com. “But there is nothing more rewarding than winning. I would not change my wins for goals. I’m real happy with where things are at. Our forwards are doing well, guys are contributing all over the field, and that’s what makes a team.”
That team was missing in 2011, especially down the stretch when versatile attacker Chris Pontius went down with a broken leg. De Rosario put United on his back, dragging them into the MLS Cup Playoffs race by knocking in goals left and right only to see them eliminated in the penultimate game of the season.
This year has transpired quite differently so far, with Maicon Santos, Chris Pontius, Nick DeLeon and Danny Cruz picking up the goalscoring burden. De Rosario, meanwhile, has returned to the role of facilitator – the same spot he played with the Houston Dynamo when they won MLS Cup 2006 and 2007.
“At this point, I don’t have to score, because everyone else is scoring,” De Rosario added. “But when my chances do come, I’ll take them to help my team to get that win any way we can.”
One of the biggest reasons why the goals from DeRo haven’t shown up yet is the fact that he has begun to take on a new role within the United set up. With DeLeon playing well out wide, Pontius has been partnered up top with Maicon Santos, allowing De Rosario to drop deeper in the midfield, where he is quite comfortable on the ball. It means more defensive work and more influence on the game, though perhaps less individual recognition.
And he's quite all right with that.
“It was a mutual agreement [between Olsen and me]," he said. "I like playing that position, and being able to see the field to create. When we have guys as good as they are, with the depth now, I am able to focus on that one position. I’m able work with the defensive midfielder and the wide midfielders to create a good flow and rhythm within our team.”
If things remain as they are, it looks as if the 2011 MLS MVP might not reach the same individual heights he did last season. But in the grand scheme of things, that just might not matter.