TORONTO – If Toronto FC are able to successfully pull off the acquisitions of Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley next week, then MLSE president and CEO Tim Leiweke will likely receive many plaudits for nabbing two high-profile players.
Closer to home, the same could be said for his influence in bringing former star and Canadian international Dwayne De Rosario back to Toronto.
While Leiweke was not present at the press conference on Thursday that officially announced his second go round with his hometown club, De Rosario made it clear that the former AEG executive was key in bringing him back to a club that he left acrimoniously in 2011.
“I have the utmost respect for what Tim Leiweke has accomplished in Los Angeles,” De Rosario told reporters. “It speaks for itself. He is also very up front and honest and I appreciate that and it is all I ever wanted.
“I think Tim Leiweke has a great vision in terms of understanding the balance and importance of promoting the business, but most importantly promoting winning and success,” De Rosario added. “He has won at every level and coach Ryan Nelsen has won at every level. I’ve also been a winner. So that’s a combination that could be very fruitful.”
When De Rosario was traded to the New York Red Bulls due to a public and emotionally heated contract dispute with TFC management three years ago, it seemed like hell would have to freeze over before the local product would ever wear a TFC kit again.
However, despite an ice storm and freezing temperatures in the city over Christmas and the New Year, it appears that all it took to engineer a thaw between MLSE and De Rosario was the installation of a new leader at the top of the organization.
“I’d known about Tim for what he has done in Los Angeles when Frank Yallop was the coach,” De Rosario explained. “I did my research through people like Frank and everyone had nothing but positive things to say about him.”
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De Rosario was quick to admit that initial phone chats with both Leiweke and TFC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko ending up making a return to Toronto something that was not such an impossibility.
“I think when I spoke to both Tim and Tim over the phone, they were very clear on what the vision is,” De Rosario said. “I had never had this feeling of the importance of connecting with the players and understanding how we can have a common goal to make this thing successful. That told me it was a whole new regime with a whole new focus.”
“In my opinion, there is really no comparison [between the organization now and when I left the club],” De Rosario added. “One had one vision and one has another vision. I like the vision that these guys have. It connects well with my vision of being successful and pushing each other to be better.”