HOUSTON – Dwayne De Rosario’s been down this road before.
Former team hero returning to his old haunts, embraced by the crowd, adored by those who watched him carve out his legend before he left town. It’s the same story that plays out for him every season in San Jose, New York, Toronto and, in the place where they just might adore him the most, Houston.
But when De Rosario rolled back into town this time around, the landscape had shifted. Houston is suddenly a city not only with a perennial playoff team but also the perfect place for it to play, and that’s a far cry from the way it was when De Rosario left Texas for Toronto after the 2008 season.
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But there was De Rosario on Saturday, strolling on the spotless new grass at BBVA Compass Stadium with his almost ever-present headphones and the crowd on their feet, cheering on one of the players who laid the groundwork for the new stadium years before anyone laid the first brick.
“I was just seeing how much has changed, and how beautiful that stadium is,” De Rosario said after Houston topped D.C. United 1-0 in the first game at the Dynamo’s new home. “It’s tough, because we were here to do business and get three points, but I can’t emphasize enough how proud I am of the Dynamo and the city that they have this stadium.”
De Rosario didn’t quite get in on the festivities the way he would have liked, and that actually came as a surprise. He’s notorious for shredding his former teams when he gets his chance, and he hasn’t shown pity for his former friends in orange in the years since he left, scoring four goals and adding two assists in seven games all-time against the Dynamo.
This one, however, simply wasn’t his for the taking. Instead the spoils went to his former teammates Brian Ching and especially midfielder Brad Davis, who rocketed the game-winner from 35 yards out in the 67th minute before celebrating in the stands, while De Rosario just tipped his hat.
“The first thing I said was, ‘Congrats,” De Rosario said. “Those guys and myself … we had a lot to do with the idea of building a soccer-specific stadium. I’m proud of those guys, they put in a lot of work for soccer in this city, and they’ve done a lot for the Dynamo organization.”
De Rosario also echoed sentiments expressed earlier this week by Ching, who said the Dynamo’s immediate success in the club’s first two seasons likely turned doubters into believers when the team first arrived from San Jose in 2006.
It was then, De Rosario said, that someday taking an afternoon stroll on the grass the way he did Saturday first became a possibility.
“We turned a football town,” he said, “into a European football town.”