Faces of First Kick: Santino Quaranta
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DC Notebook: Quaranta goes full 90 in first action back

WASHINGTON — While D.C. United’s wild 3-3 draw with Toronto on Saturday was unforgettable for a multitude of reasons, the experience was perhaps most significant for midfielder Santino Quaranta.

The longtime DC veteran returned to the starting lineup for the first time in almost three months, going the full 90 minutes after being sidelined during that time with concussion symptoms.

“It was enjoyable,” Quaranta said of his return. “I tried to do whatever I could for the team and Benny [Olsen, DC head coach] knows that.”

Getting a spot on the first team roster because of a red card suspension for Andy Najar, Quaranta had only a couple of full training sessions under his belt before getting the call.

The biggest issue in returning from a long injury layoff is fitness, and it wasn’t in Olsen’s plans to keep Quaranta in the full 90. However, Bill Hamid’s red card in the seventh minute meant Olsen had to play the situation by ear.

“Making an early change postpones that second, third one, especially on a day where you’re playing down a man,” Olsen said.

Despite the long layoff, however, Quaranta coped well and looked sharp for someone who has missed significant time. He showed an alertness to take a first half free kick short, teeing up Dwayne De Rosario for his first goal of the night.

While he was pleased when the final whistle came — because DC had spent more than 80 minutes defending a man down — he didn’t feel too far off the pace.

“I felt fine, I don’t think I missed too much,” Quaranta added. “I’ve been doing a lot of running with our trainers and a heart rate monitor and it showed.”

De Rosario punishes another former team

With a hat trick in Saturday’s game, Dwayne De Rosario took his goal total in a DC uniform to six goals in as many games. All six of those goals have now come against former teams, with New York, San Jose and now Toronto all feeling the wrath of their former All-Star.

De Rosario, who didn’t celebrate any of his three goals against Toronto, was simply content leading his new team to a result in a tough situation.

“It was a good feeling to help my team get points,” De Rosario said after the game. “Whether it’s against Toronto or not, that doesn’t really matter to me. I try to play every game with the same mentality.”

Travis Clark covers D.C. United, college and youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @travismclark.