Dwayne De Rosario has always had a flair for the dramatic. So it's no surprise that he tantalized San Jose Earthquakes fans this offseason, leaving them guessing as to whether he was coming back.
It wasn't until March 7 that De Rosario, author of some of the most spectacular and significant goals in Earthquakes history, officially rejoined the team. In the meantime, the fifth-year MLS veteran spent the offseason working out for teams in England and was close to signing with Premiership club Blackburn Rovers.
"It went really well out there -- unfortunately, at the time, they didn't have the money to offer me for an extended contract," said De Rosario. "It didn't work out, so I have to focus on this task here in MLS."
According to De Rosario, Blackburn was willing to offer him a contract to carry through the remainder of the English season in mid-May.
"I would have only been there for two months. I have a family, so I have to do what's best for me and my family," said De Rosario, who has a daughter and two sons. "Sometimes you just have make a wiser decision rather than just jump at anything."
A fixture with the Canadian national team -- coached by former Earthquakes boss Frank Yallop -- the 27-year-old De Rosario has been productive in San Jose, notching 18 goals and 18 assists over his four-year regular season career.
Of course, De Rosario is best known for his stunning game-winning overtime goal in a 2-1 victory for the MLS Cup against archrival Los Angeles Galaxy. He also produced the 2004 MLS Goal of the Year for his full-volley blast against D.C. United on Aug. 7, not to mention a bicycle-kick goal last April 17 against New England.
"Dwayne has been a big part of San Jose's success the past four seasons," said Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear. "He is a strong goalscorer and I believe that he will add a lot to our attack."
In his season debut last Saturday in the 3-3 draw with Chivas USA, the familiar face to Earthquakes fans found himself in an unfamiliar position, on the right side of midfield when he came on as a substitute for right midfielder Brian Mullan in the 71st minute. Although he has spent some time playing as a wide midfielder for his country, De Rosario has been primarily a forward since joining MLS in 2001.
"I guess I'm a utility player, playing here, there and everywhere," said De Rosario. "I like playing up front, but at the end of the day wherever the coach puts you -- midfield, goalie, whatever -- you take the opportunity and do what's best for the team."
With Brian Ching and Ronald Cerritos forming a potent partnership up top -- not to mention experienced and productive reserve forward Alejandro Moreno -- the Earthquakes boast perhaps the deepest strike force in the league. This presents a challenge for Kinnear to get his best attacking players on the field, and he has responded by giving De Rosario an early-season look in the midfield.
In his few appearances as an outside midfielder with the club over the course of his career, De Rosario has proven to be a handful for the opposition along the wing. And although he still defines himself as a striker, De Rosario does see the potential benefits of playing outside.
"You definitely get the ball a lot to your feet and you're usually running at defenders, which is one of my strengths," he said. "That's why coaches have liked to put me there over the years. I have to make the best of it because it's an opportunity for me to play."
Danny Kadah is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.