WASHINGTON – As the matches roll on, marching toward D.C. United’s inevitable mathematical elimination from playoff contention and – far more importantly, the U.S. Open Cup final match against Real Salt Lake on Oct. 1 – small positives can be extracted from indifferent results.
Such was the case following Saturday night’s 1-1 draw against Toronto FC at RFK Stadium, when United failed to hold a lead, but received an inspired shift from captain Dwayne De Rosario.
In addition to his 10th-minute golazo, the veteran Canadian attempted four shots and looked healthy and active in the final third for the first time in a while. With the Open Cup final more than a month away, a healthy De Rosario could go a long way toward helping United earn some silverware in an otherwise failed campaign.
“I think the last two months, he’s been hungry,” United coach Ben Olsen said after the match. “He’s played with a different look in his eye. He’s also getting healthy again, he’s getting stronger. He’s had two groin injuries, one early in the season, and he hasn’t had a good stretch when he’s fully fit and healthy.”
DeRo has only logged the full 90 minutes in seven matches, including Saturday's, while he’s gone unused in seven and has come off the bench in five.
“I finally feel the strength in my leg after two months of being out, not being able to strike the ball. My leg feels good, knock on wood,” De Rosario said.
Two of De Rosario’s three goals in league play have come against his former club in Toronto, the team directly ahead of United in the basement of the Eastern Conference. While the players were disappointed with Saturday’s result – failing to beat the Reds in two opportunities at RFK, both times after taking the lead – a healthy De Rosario could go a long way toward making the final stretch of United’s season more exciting.
“[It was a] good strike by DeRo,” Olsen said. “He’s looked sharp the last couple weeks to a month in training with his finishing. He seems to be getting stronger with his groin and able to pull the trigger at the right pace.”
Nick Cammarota covers D.C. United for MLSsoccer.com.